Radiotherapy department

Radiotherapy treatment is commissioned centrally by NHS England.

The radiotherapy department at The Royal Marsden serves both the local population of South West London and a wider population with its more specialised treatment services.

The department is managed as one service, delivering radiotherapy at both Chelsea and Sutton. Approximately 5000 patients a year are treated across both sites, adding up to around 75,000 visits annually for treatment.

In 2016 the Care Quality Commission (CQC) rated the radiotherapy service at both sites as outstanding.

Strategic aims

The multidisciplinary teams aim to work together to provide patient-centred, safe, evidence-based, high-quality care. The department consistently meets cancer waiting time targets for access to radiotherapy treatments. 

Its service aims for patients to have high-quality information about treatment options and for decisions to be made in partnership with them.

It aims to maintain a culture that encourages research and innovation to lead the development of advanced radiotherapy techniques to improve cancer outcomes while minimising the long-term consequences of treatment on healthy tissue.

Comprehensive cancer treatment

Radiotherapy is used to treat many different forms of cancer. The Royal Marsden's radiotherapy department covers all main tumour sites and has specialised services for sarcomas and paediatrics.

Most cancers can be treated at either hospital, but some treatments are delivered at only one site for equipment and support reasons. Patients can be transferred between our two hospital sites as necessary.

The department is one of 17 centres across the country participating in the assessment of Stereotactic Ablative Radiotherapy (SABR) for a broader range of cancer indications via the NHS England Commissioning through Evaluation initiative.

It is also a commissioned centre providing Intracranial Stereotactic Radiosurgery/Radiotherapy (SRS/SRT) for selected brain tumours and for brain metastases.

Expert-led multidisciplinary team

Radiotherapy treatment is decided, planned, checked and delivered by a multidisciplinary team of tumour site specialist clinical oncologists, medical physicists and therapeutic radiographers. Radiotherapy staff are a highly skilled innovative workforce committed to continually improving the service delivered to patients.

Developing this workforce  in national and international reputation, quality and numbers  underpins the department's strategic aims.

The department has been accredited by the British Standards Institution (BSI) for providing a high-quality service to patients for more than 15 years.

Radiotherapy equipment

The Royal Marsden has a rolling equipment replacement program with a commitment to continually invest in new and replacement equipment. This underpins the department's ability to deliver government targets for cancer waiting times while providing a platform to maintain its reputation for being at the cutting edge of radiotherapy.

Currently available treatment delivery platforms across the department comprise 11 Linacs, a CyberKnife, a brachytherapy unit, a skin unit and the MR Linac, which will be clinically operational in a research setting by the end of 2017.

Here are the units listed by both department and manufacturer name:

Treatment equipment at Chelsea:

  • Brachytherapy Suite
  • Brunel – Varian TrueBeam2 Linac
  • Carlyle – Varian 600C with ExacTrac Linac
  • CyberKnife – Accuray CyberKnife
  • Franklin – Varian TrueBeam2 Slim Linac
  • Joe Ford – Varian 2100DMX Linac

Treatment equipment at Sutton:

  • Beech – Elekta Agility Linac
  • Cedar – Elekta Synergy Linac
  • Juniper – Elekta Agility Linac
  • Laurel – Gulmay Superficial Unit
  • Hawthorn – Elekta Versa HD Linac
  • Mullard – Elekta Precise Linac
  • Rowan – Elekta Agility Linac
  • Willow – Elekta Synergy Linac
  • MR Linac - Elekta Unity

The clinical service supports the joint research programme between The Royal Marsden and the ICR, funded by Cancer Research UK. It also leads and participates in many national and international trials, meaning patients have the opportunity to benefit from the most recent treatments in development.

Research and evidence-based treatment

The joint research program has supported treatment developments such as intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) and image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT). The application and potential of cutting-edge treatment modalities such as adaptive radiotherapy and tumour tracking (which aim to adapt treatment as a tumour moves or changes) continue to be investigated.

Find out more about research at The Royal Marsden.

Education and training

The Royal Marsden is a centre of excellence for the training and continuing professional development of radiotherapy staff across the multi-disciplinary team. We are partners for delivery of education and training with a number of HEIs and actively share best practice with the wider radiotherapy community wherever possible by developing and hosting study days and educational programmes.