The Cromwell Hospital has added an innovative combined radiotherapy machine and MRI scanner to help treat some of the most difficult cancers.
The ViewRay MRIdian MR Linac which has been installed in the hospital’s GenesisCare centre is the second such version in the UK following a placement in Oxford.
It uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to provide live, detailed images of the tumour and surrounding tissues, allowing clinicians to see what they are treating with highly focused radiotherapy in real time, rather than acquiring separate MRI scans.
The hospital said the scanner’s automated beam control meant if a tumour moves even a few millimetres, the radiotherapy treatment will pause until it comes back into position, avoiding irradiating healthy tissue unnecessarily.
“The increased accuracy from these live images and automated beam control gives clinicians greater confidence that they are hitting the cancer target 100% of the time,” the hospital said.
“This has been shown to be particularly advantageous in cancers that are situated close to major organs which can move, and if damaged, can lead to severe side-effects.
“These include prostate, lung, bowel, pancreatic and liver cancers. It can also treat cancers that have spread to other sites in the body,” it added.
Doctors should also be able to administer a high dose of stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR) without reaching prohibitive levels of toxicity, resulting in fewer treatment sessions and potentially fewer side effects for patients.
While conventional radiotherapy can involve up to 37 treatments, patients treated with the system typically only require between three to eight treatment sessions, the hospital added.
Dr John Conibear, clinical lead for GenesisCare at Cromwell Hospital said: “This technological investment is crucial as predictions suggest that there will be a wave of new cancer diagnoses when patients come forward to present symptoms once social distancing is relaxed.”