A new £3.6m MRI scanner at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre in Glasgow will be “transformative” for the care of people with cancer.
It’s estimated 20,000 patients will need treatment for a number of cancers over the next ten years.
Dr David Dodds, chief of medicine, regional services at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “This is a project which has been six or seven years in the making and this designed to ensure we give patients the best possible radiotherapy treatment.
“Part of that process is to target the tumour in the best possible way we can. There are big benefits here with regards to cancer outcomes and also the quality of life.
“20% of the machines time will be used for research. This has always been an integral part of the overall program to make sure that clinical research was part of the programme,” added Dr Dodds.
The higher definition of the images produced by the scanner means specialists can more accurately target certain tumours compared to current technology.
This means a more precise beam of radiation can be used, limiting the damage to surrounding tissue and improving patient care and recovery.
Unveiling the device, health secretary, Humza Yousaf, said: “The Beatson is a globally recognised centre of expertise and what I’m really pleased about is the investment here will allow for targeted radiotherapy treatment.
“That improves the prognosis for people who are experiencing cancer treatment.
“You would find it hard to find someone who hasn’t been affected by cancer in some way shape or form, the care patients receive here is exemplary, second to none. So the investments we make should mean the treatments they get improve their prognosis and put that person at the centre of everything we do.”
The health secretary also acknowledged the challenges cancer care has experienced during and after the covid-19 pandemic.
Procedures and treatments were paused or suspended while hospitals were used to care for those battling the worst of the illness, however new facilities like the MRI scanner could be “crucial” in clearing a care backlog.
“There is not getting away from the fact that over the course of the last two years people haven’t been able to see their GP as often as they would like, through no fault of theirs or the GP,” he added.
“The GP is often the front door when there is a suspicion of cancer. So there is no doubt at all then when third sector charities talk about a cancer waiting list or a backlog they are absolutely right.
“What we have done now is invest significant amounts of money in our detect cancer early program and we have our early cancer diagnostic centres as well in three health boards.
“If the evaluation of those centres is positive we will hopefully roll those out further.”
Funding for the scanner came from an NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde grant of 50% with fundraising from the Beatson cancer charity and donations from individuals and charitable trusts making up the rest.
David Bartlett, who was treated at The Beatson after being diagnosed with a brain tumour in April 2018, was one of the first donors said the atmosphere “immediately put him at ease” before undergoing care.
He added: “The professionalism of everybody is amazing. My diagnosis wasn’t very good, but the treatment was amazing, everybody was so friendly.
“I can imagine that anyone who comes here will receive the same amazing care I did.
“They put you at ease here, for someone who is absolutely scared when it comes to hospitals, they put you at ease.”