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Monday, 25 October 2021
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Cancer patients to benefit from pioneering CyberKnife radiotherapy

THE Royal Marsden Cancer Charity has funded a brand-new state of the art CyberKnife treatment unit, the first model of its kind in the UK, which means more cancer patients will now be able to benefit from the very latest in radiotherapy technology.

This pioneering piece of equipment can deliver larger doses of precisely targeted radiotherapy treatment known as stereotactic body (SABR) or stereotactic brain (SRS) radiotherapy, and the machine’s non-invasive robotic arm can be positioned at almost any angle, so it’s ideal for treating hard-to-reach tumours, including brain, spinal, lung and neck. Using robotic technology and a real-time imaging system means patients can be treated with pinpoint accuracy with less healthy tissue damaged during treatment and fewer treatment sessions being required.

Based in Sutton’s radiotherapy department, this is The Royal Marsden’s second Cyberknife and currently the only model of its kind in the UK. The new model of CyberKnife has an additional feature of a multileaf collimator (MLC) head which means faster treatment delivery times and shorter treatment sessions lasting as little as 15 minutes.

The Royal Marsden was one of the first London NHS Trusts to install the CyberKnife in their Chelsea hospital in 2011, thanks to funding from The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. This machine has since treated nearly three thousand patients and been the focus of international research.

Davina Colton, 58, from Devon is one of the first patients to be treated on the new CyberKnife and is the very first patient to access a brand-new feature of the machine, the multileaf collimator (MLC) which has halved her treatment session time.

Cancer patients to benefit from pioneering CyberKnife radiotherapy
Patient Davina Colton with CyberKnife radiotherapy team Royal Marsden

Davina said:

“After seven years of being cancer-free following my original diagnosis of ovarian cancer, I was told it had returned in my lymph nodes and that having radiotherapy on the CyberKnife would be the best way to target any remaining cancer cells that couldn’t be removed through surgery. Knowing that my treatment sessions were only about 20 minutes long rather than an hour, and to be able to have such focused sessions over three days has made a huge difference. Treatment on the CyberKnife was pain-free, straightforward, quick and the team were all amazing, so thorough and kind, they made me feel at ease the entire time and even played Motown music for me during my last session!”

Antonia Dalmahoy, Managing Director of The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, said:

“We’re incredibly grateful to our supporters who have enabled us to fund this state-of-the-art CyberKnife machine, it’s already making a huge difference to the lives of cancer patients. The money we raise allows us to continue to support The Royal Marsden’s exceptional work and we’re immensely grateful to each and every person who donates to our cause, we can’t thank you enough.”

Dr Nicholas van As Medical Director and Consultant Clinical Oncologist at The Royal Marsden said:

“Using this type of radiotherapy means that patients can be spared numerous visits to hospital, allowing them to get back to their lives sooner which is vital more so now than ever before. The installation of our new CyberKnife follows the recent announcement from NHS England around expanding and accelerating stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR) treatments to more patients across the NHS so this is a really positive step forward. Research has also shown encouraging results with prostate cancer patients being cured in as little as one or two weeks from this type of treatment, a significant reduction from the current standard of one to two months.”

CyberKnife at The Royal Marsden will be the focus of further research to improve radiotherapy treatments across a range of cancers, supported by The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. This includes the PACE C trial, a study supported with additional funding by gifts in Wills left to The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, which is researching whether prostate cancer can be cured in just five treatments.

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