Year of Radiotherapy - Radiotherapy Could Save Thousands of Lives

Posted on Feb 28, 2011

2011 is the Year of Radiotherapy, an initiative to raise awareness of radiotherapy as a cost effective, cutting edge treatment that can help cure cancer. According to figures published by Cancer Research UK, only 1 in 10 people know that radiotherapy helps cure 40 per cent of cancer patients. A report from the national charity estimates that only 38 per cent of cancer patients in England are getting radiotherapy, although research shows that up to 50 per cent might benefit.

Julie Mead, Clinical Director of Shrewsbury-based Oncology Systems Limited (OSL) has 20 years of clinical and teaching experience in radiotherapy. She said: "We need to dispel the myths about radiotherapy and associated side effects and make people more aware of the benefits of the latest treatments, but we also need to make sure that the treatments are available across the country."

"The UK lags behind America and Europe in introducing the new, more targeted radiotherapy technology that is available. Rather than update and reinvest in technology that's essentially been around for the last 40 or so years, it's time we made sure that every cancer patient in the UK has access to the best treatment."

Earlier this month, national cancer tsar, Professor Sir Mike Richards visited the midlands to officially launch the UK's latest TomoTherapy machine supplied by OSL. The Nottingham Radiotherapy Centre at Nottingham City Hospital is one of only six centres in the UK to offer this treatment. He said: "Across the country there are a quarter of a million people diagnosed with cancer every year. There's no doubt that our survival rates have risen and our treatment has improved almost beyond recognition."

"Our aim is to match the best in the world. With the TomoTherapy machine there will be treatments that people from the East Midlands and beyond will be able to access for the first time. I'm sure people from other trusts will come here to look for ideas for future treatment."

In 2010, Guy's and St.Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust installed the first TomoTherapy machine in a London-based NHS hospital. George Mikhaeel, Head of Clinical Oncology at the trust said: "The TomoTherapy machine integrated with our existing technology and our team mastered its operation quickly, so within weeks we were treating many patients on it each day. TomoTherapy uses daily CT imaging to guide treatment based on patient anatomy for that day, rather than for last week or last month, meaning we know exactly where we are treating and can minimise the risk of harm to healthy tissue."

OSL is the UK and Ireland's exclusive distributor of the helical TomoTherapy treatment machine, which provides uprecedented precise, targeted, image guided intensity modulated radiotherapy. There are more than 300 installations of the machine worldwide but just six hospitals using the technology in the UK.

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