Accurate, safer, and faster radiotherapy treatment for cancer patients

Staff at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust were joined by footballer Sean Davis from Fulham Football Club in December to mark the official opening of the new state of the art radiotherapy machine to treat patients with cancer.

The Trust has purchased two TrueBeam Linear Accelerator machines, which are an investment of £5 million. They are the latest technologically advanced treatments systems and can treat more complicated cancers due to its pinpoint accuracy and precision, ease and speed. The first of the two machines has been installed and has been in use since 1 December at Charing Cross Hospital.

The Trust has four LINAC (Linear Accelerator) units at Charing Cross Hospital. TrueBeam, the latest addition will allow teams to carry out more complicated radiotherapy which is significantly quicker than other technologies and ensures a greater dose reaches the tumour rather than surrounding healthy tissue. We can also now target smaller areas, particular brain lesions, with highly focussed radiation beams.

Suzanne Harrow, a radiographer at Charing Cross Hospital said: “In the past, we were constrained by X-ray technology that produced square or rectangular beams – and not many tumours are cube-shaped. Modern LINAC units allow us to move the beam to cut off the corners of the block to create complex shapes that closely match a tumour.”

Truebeam footballer ribbon cutting

“Now, rather than seeing a flat 2D image, we can look three-dimensionally to be certain we are in exactly the right place. Over time, if we see that the tumour is shrinking, we will be able to adjust the treatment accordingly.”

Installation of the new machine will also help the Trust go beyond achieving the government target of 24 per cent of patients receiving intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), and to deliver image guided and stereotactic treatments.

 Radiotherapy is a treatment that involves the use of high-energy radiation. It is commonly used to treat cancer. Almost half of all people with cancer have radiotherapy as part of their treatment plan, and approximately 40 per cent of patients with cancer have radiotherapy as part of their curative treatment.