Last Updated: 5th September 2019

Cancer patients to benefit from new £1.7 million radiotherapy treatment machine

The Radiotherapy Department at Castle Hill Hospital are in the process of installing a new £1.7 million Varian Truebeam Linear Accelertor (Linac), which will be used to treat cancer patients.

Peter Colley, Consultant Physicist Lead for Radiotherapy Physics says:

“In our department, we pride ourselves on being at the forefront of cancer treatment, and the new Linac enables us to extend the availability of the very latest techniques and technologies to more of our patient treatments. Not only does this mean radiotherapy treatment is more accurate, but in certain patient groups, the technology allows us to more carefully monitor patients’ treatments and enables us to assess and make modifications to treatment.  This has the potential to reduce side effects and increase the effectiveness of the treatment we are delivering.”

“The Truebeam can also help to reduce treatment time for patients with head and neck cancers, for example, from 20 minutes to just 15. This is a huge benefit for patients, as each person receiving treatment has to wear a beam direction shell to restrict their movement. This can be daunting, especially for those who are already anxious or may be claustrophobic, so it will help us to improve patient experience too.”

“Radiotherapy can be delivered internally, using a technique called Brachytherapy, and externally, using a Linear Accelerator. The treatment is carefully planned using a CT scan to allow the Clinical Oncologists to pinpoint where they wish the Dosimetrists and Physicists to create a treatment plan. The treatment plan then provides the instructions for the Treatment Radiographers to deliver the treatment. The aim is to target the cancer while keeping the dose of radiotherapy to the surrounding healthy body tissue to a minimum. The detailed planning and treatment delivery ensures that the treatment is delivered to the exact place each day. Patients may experience some side effects, such as fatigue, nausea and skin reactions, however this varies depending on which part of the body is receiving treatment.”

The new Linac machine is currently being installed, following this there will be a commissioning period and the first patient is scheduled to be treated using the machine in early June.