Business, oncology  

Varian to equip new Oxford cancer centre in 31-year PFI contract

31 January 2006

Oxford, England. Cancer patients in southern England are to benefit from state-of-the-art radiotherapy treatments thanks to a major new oncology centre due to open in 2008. Varian Medical Systems has been selected to equip the new unit at Oxford Churchill Hospital in one of Europe's largest PFI (private finance initiative) projects.

As part of an initial $13 million order booked in the company's first quarter of fiscal year 2006, Varian will equip the new centre with six Clinac linear accelerators and a full suite of Varian information management and treatment planning software. All the accelerators will allow clinicians to carry out IMRT (intensity modulated radiation therapy) to enable higher precision treatments, while two of the machines will also be equipped with Varian's robotic On-Board Imager device for image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT). Oxford Churchill Hospital will be among the first centres in the UK to offer IGRT treatments for patients in addition to IMRT.

Walter Frei, head of Varian's Oncology Systems business in Europe, said the radiotherapy PFI contract covers 31 years where Varian has teamed with Impregilo Spa, of Italy, to provide the radiotherapy services. "We are delighted to be working closely with Impregilo on a long-term partnership that will bring enormous benefits to cancer sufferers in the UK," he added.

Varian has been selected as equipment supplier in several other PFI contracts — including at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital and the Plymouth Oncology Centre — but the Oxford Churchill project is one of the largest of its kind. "This will be a magnificent facility that will help to establish a new standard of cancer care in the UK and we are proud that Varian technology and products will be part of this effort," Frei said.


IGRT, which is a major breakthrough in the ability to track organ motion and deliver treatments with higher precision, is only offered routinely at a handful of UK hospitals to date, including Clatterbridge Centre for Oncology and Ipswich Hospital. Varian's On-Board Imager device is a digital imaging accessory mounted on the medical linear accelerator, the machine which delivers the radiation treatments. It can be used to improve precision by verifying tumour locations and monitoring tumour motions at the moment of treatment. It will provide doctors with a clear indication of exactly how a tumour will move during treatment due to respiration or other repeatable physiological cycles.

Varian's IMRT technology is a ground-breaking treatment which allows conforming of the treatment beam to the shape of the tumour, thus improving accuracy while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue. Using this approach, clinicians can easily deliver this advanced treatment in the conventional 10-15 minute appointment time slot required for daily cancer treatments.


As part of the PFI Managed Equipment Service arrangement, Varian will be responsible for equipment maintenance and replacements during the lifetime of the agreement. "It's a comprehensive long-term solution for the Trust," says Michael Sandhu, Varian's European Director of Public Private Partnerships. "In a time of rapid technological change, these contracts protect against obsolescence so that clinics can continue to offer state-of-the-art medical care.

"Good performance, reliability and effective maintenance provision rate extremely highly in PFIs. We have been particularly successful in these projects because we can offer a comprehensive array of radiotherapy equipment that addresses a broad range of clinical needs in a cost effective manner."

In addition to the initial installation of six linear accelerators, a full suite of Eclipse treatment planning workstations and Varian information management software, Oxford Churchill will also receive an Acuity imaging system with cone-beam CT capability.

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