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Pioneering CyberKnife radiotherapy treats first patients at The Royal Marsden, Sutton

Cancer patients will be able to benefit from the very latest in radiotherapy technology following the arrival of a state-of-the-art CyberKnife treatment unit, the only model of its kind in the UK. 

22 September 2020

Image: Davina, first MLC patient on the new CyberKnife in Sutton with Royal Marsden staff.

Funded by The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, this pioneering piece of equipment can deliver larger doses of precisely targeted radiotherapy treatment in a small number of fractions. This is known as stereotactic body (SABR) or stereotactic brain (SRS) radiotherapy when it is used to treat small tumours in the body or in the brain. The machine uses robotic technology to position the treatment head precisely and a real-time imaging system to track the position of the tumour. This means that patients can be treated with pinpoint accuracy with less healthy tissue damaged during treatment and fewer treatment sessions being required.

The Accuray CyberKnife System is a 3D image-guided intensity modulated radiation therapy (IG-IMRT) system that includes treatment planning, imaging, and treatment delivery. The new model of CyberKnife combines speed, advanced precision, and real-time artificial intelligence (AI)-driven motion tracking and synchronization which means it’s able to deliver treatment more efficiently than ever before. Having the additional feature of a multileaf collimator (MLC) head means faster treatment delivery times and shorter treatment sessions lasting as little as 15 minutes.

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 Royal Marsden were one of the first London NHS Trusts to install the CyberKnife in their Chelsea hospital in 2011 which has since treated nearly three thousand patients and been the focus of international research including the PACE-B prostate cancer trial.

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.

Dr Nicholas van As, Medical Director and Consultant Clinical Oncologist at The Royal Marsden and also Chief Investigator on the PACE-B trial

Dr Nicholas van As, Medical Director and Consultant Clinical Oncologist at The Royal Marsden and also Chief Investigator on the PACE-B trial said: 

“The new CyberKnife in Sutton will enable even more patients to have access to the latest technology for radiotherapy treatment which is an extremely positive step forward, especially as the installation follows the recent announcement from NHS England around expanding and accelerating stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR) treatments to more patients across the NHS. 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 and research has 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. 

“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. We’re incredibly grateful to supporters of The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity who have enabled us to fund this state-of-the-art machine, it’s already making a huge difference to the lives of cancer patients across the country.”

 

Davina Colton, 58 (pictured above), 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.

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!”

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 in partnership with the Institute of Cancer Research, London (ICR) and Cancer Research UK. 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.

Supported by The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity 

The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity raises money solely to support The Royal Marsden, a world-leading cancer centre.  It ensures Royal Marsden nurses, doctors and research teams can provide the very best care and develop life-saving treatments, which are used across the UK and around the world. From funding state-of-the-art equipment and ground-breaking research, to creating the very best patient environments, The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity will never stop looking for ways to improve the lives of people affected by cancer.