Meet Dr Fiona McDonald, Consultant Clinical Oncologist
In her role as Consultant Clinical Oncologist in The Royal Marsden’s Lung Unit, Dr Fiona McDonald specialises in treating patients with all types of lung cancers across the Chelsea and Sutton hospitals. She also leads on research and technological developments to improve outcomes for patients, ensuring that we remain at the forefront of radiotherapy technology.
Dr McDonald’s research aims to develop personalised approaches using technologies such as intensity-modulated, adaptive and image-guided radiotherapy. In addition, she has led on the development of stereotactic radiotherapy for lung tumours. One such state-of-the-art technology is our CyberKnife, which delivers hundreds of beams of radiation with pinpoint accuracy.
Importantly for lung cancer patients, CyberKnife targets tumours differently from conventional radiotherapy. The machine has the unique ability to track a tumour as it moves with the patient’s breathing, thus minimising the amount of radiation delivered to surrounding healthy tissue.
Importantly for lung cancer cases, CyberKnife minimises the amount of radiation delivered to healthy tissue
Dr McDonald says: “CyberKnife can be used to treat early-stage primary lung cancer, as well as to treat patients who have secondary cancer that has spread to the lungs. For early-stage lung cancer, CyberKnife has high success rates for patients who cannot, or don’t want to, undergo surgery.
“For certain patients whose cancer has spread to the lungs, there is increasing international evidence for the importance of stereotactic radiotherapy for better patient outcomes. This is an active area of our research.”
Dr McDonald treats several patients each year using CyberKnife and is a passionate advocate of its benefits. She says: “Due to the high doses of radiotherapy that can be administered with such high precision, patients require far fewer hospital visits.
“It is technology such as this,” she adds, “along with the experienced multidisciplinary team approach to individualised care that ensures we offer our patients the best possible treatment – this lies at the heart of everything we do at The Royal Marsden.”