NHS Grampian has delivered its first 100 fractions of adaptive radiotherapy with two new devices.
The health board unveiled two new £2.5m radiotherapy machines in January 2023, giving the region the largest adaptive cancer treatment capacity in the UK.
The Ethos machines allow medics to personalise each dose of radiotherapy to best target tumours, as it and the patient change through treatment.
NHS Grampian and Glasgow’s Beatson Cancer Centre are the first in Scotland to introduce the technology.
Consultant clinical oncologist, Rafael Moleron said: “Traditionally patients requiring radiotherapy have had their treatment designed before their first session and it doesn’t vary throughout the course of the treatment.
“With oncologists, physicists, radiographers and the machine’s artificial intelligence working together, we can ensure each treatment is tailored and personalised for the patient on each day – what was previously two weeks work can be done in five minutes.
“The images provided allow us to monitor treatment progress more closely and that is of huge benefit.
“This machine allows us to vary the dose of radiotherapy each time and adapt to changes – be it in the patient’s weight, the size or the shape of the tumour, or even how full an individual’s bladder is.
“It allows us to do radiotherapy with an incredibly high degree of precision and every treatment will provide the exact amount of radiation needed to attack the tumour. This means we don’t unnecessarily damage tissue around the cancer and we don’t miss coverage of the tumour.”
Although not suitable for treating all tumours, patients have already started to be treated with the new technology at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
The first patient to undergo the new style of treatment was Elizabeth Barron, from Aberdeen.
The 67-year-old had adaptive radiotherapy earlier this year to treat a tumour in her neck – unfortunately it was the second time Elizabeth had been diagnosed with cancer.
She said: “This is the second time I’ve had radiotherapy treatment – but this was the first time with this new style. This time I haven’t been nearly as ill with the radiotherapy – not many people can compare.”
Elizabeth’s treatment ended several weeks ago. She added: “I’ve had follow ups and everything is looking okay thankfully – but time will tell.
“It’s great to know NHS Grampian is investing to be at the forefront of new technology – and that staying at the forefront of fighting cancer is a big part of that.
“For me, as a patient, it’s comforting to know that the treatment is evolving with each session, and that I’m never receiving less or more radiotherapy than is necessary. It’s comforting to know the tumour is being treated with the utmost precision.”
The two machines mean NHS Grampian has the largest adaptive radiotherapy capacity in the UK.
Dr Moleron added: “We are starting with a small number of patients as things bed in, but that will quickly expand to fill our capacity. We recent delivered out 100th fraction.
“This really will be of great benefit to many patients in the region, both now and in the years to come.
“Some patients have said the treatment with the new machine is more comfortable than traditional treatments and we know for certain this type of radiotherapy provides better doses of treatment to tumours.”