Oncology, business

Varian image-guided radiotherapy selected for Portsmouth hospital

12 December 2007

The new Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth, UK, will receive four high-energy Clinac iX linear accelerators supplied by Varian Medical Systems. They will be equipped with on-board imager devices for advanced image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) treatments.

Due to open in summer 2009, Queen Alexandra Hospital will enable all acute services currently spread across three sites to be brought together under one roof. This includes the current oncology centre at St Mary’s Hospital. The new facility will serve a population of 600,000 people and is one of the UK’s largest replacement projects since the investment waves for cancer services started with the UK government’s Cancer Plan.

Tony Palmer, the hospital’s head of radiotherapy physics, said, “This new facility will mean we can offer local cancer patients treatments that are truly state-of-the-art internationally. We will also be one of the only NHS cancer centres in the UK with every one of our treatment machines equipped for 3D image-guided radiotherapy, which we feel is crucially important.”

According to Mr Palmer, the desire to have all four machines equipped with on-board imager accessories was supported by the recommendations of the recent National Radiotherapy Advisory Group (NRAG) report on radiotherapy provision. “The NRAG report highlighted the importance of image-guidance on new linear accelerators and we want to be able to offer our patients the highest quality treatments on all machines, not just one or two,” he said.

“Our whole team of doctors, radiographers and physicists are very excited about the proposition of a new centre with advanced technology for offering the best possible cancer treatments. This will enable us to precisely align the treatment beam with the tumour, using advanced imaging at the point of treatment with the ability to account for respiratory motion.”

Clinicians at St Mary’s Hospital are about to introduce highly-conformal intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) treatments and this program will be expanded once the new machines are installed. An acuity simulator at the current facility will be transferred to the new site next year and will have Varian’s 4D respiratory compensation functionality added.

David Scott, Varian’s UK sales manager, adds, "The team at Portsmouth undertook a very comprehensive evaluation of all aspects of the package including the ability to meet clinical and technical requirements as well as service provision and support. As the UK's leading supplier of radiotherapy equipment and software we were extremely pleased to have been selected on this basis over the incumbent supplier and are looking forward to working in partnership with Portsmouth to bring the world’s most advanced radiotherapy treatments to patients on the south coast of England."

Prior to the advent of IGRT devices such as the On-Board Imager, radiation oncologists had to contend with variations in patient positioning and with respiratory motion by treating a larger margin of healthy tissue around the tumour. IGRT enables doctors to further minimize the volume of healthy tissue exposed to the treatment beam. Potentially, image data from IGRT tools like the on-board imager device will be used to note changes in tumour size and shape over a course of treatment, and make real-time adaptations to the treatment plan.

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