A new Varian radiotherapy treatment machine has been installed by Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH) ‘to provide state-of-the-art care’ for cancer patients.
The Varian TrueBeam Linear Accelerator with HyperArc capability – a new technique that reportedly allows Radiotherapy teams to treat patients with brain tumours faster and more efficiently – is a specialised Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS) machine which uses precisely targeted, high intensity radiation beams to treat tumours in the brain. The new linac will also treat people with a range of cancers under the care of specialists at OUH’s Cancer and Haematology Centre on the Churchill Hospital site in Oxford, a regional centre of excellence for cancer care.
The Churchill Hospital is one of a handful of NHS centres in England that delivers this highly specialised treatment. Varian explains that SRS is ‘more complex than standard radiotherapy’, and that its ‘pinpoint targeting’ destroys the tumour while protecting the surrounding healthy brain tissues. The company said: “Clinical scientists specialising in Radiotherapy Physics play a major role in installing a new linac, each taking around four months to commission in order to make them ready for use. Radiotherapy clinical technologists and clinical scientists use the latest software to plan individualised cancer treatment, and ensure that those plans are safe to deliver to our patients.”
OUH’s specialist engineers work with the manufacturers to maintain the machines and repair any faults, while clinical scientists in Medical Physics test the imaging equipment, performing radiation shielding tests and calculations in line with UK radiation protection legislation.
Ketan Shah, Consultant Oncologist and head of Radiotherapy at Oxford University Hospitals, said: “This new linac is a significant advancement in technology and capability for OUH. It has taken four months to set up, test, and re-test all the capabilities of this remarkable piece of clinical engineering. Our excellent SRS service has built a national reputation and continues to grow and innovate. I am very proud to lead our scientific, radiographer, and Clinical Radiotherapy teams, and see their collaborative efforts culminate in this new system for the benefit of our patients.”
Carol Scott, Lead therapeutic radiographer, Oxford University Hospitals, added: “To date, almost 1,000 patients have received stereotactic radiotherapy to the brain and base of skull at OUH. We are delighted this new equipment will result in quicker and more comfortable stereotactic radiotherapy treatments for patients, while ensuring highly accurate sub-millimetre precision. In turn this will increase our capacity to treat more patients who can benefit from this treatment.”