Cancer centre's first for quality

The cancer centre at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital has become one of the first clinics in the world to use a new quality assurance system used in the hi-tech radiation treatment of cancer patients.

Four patients have now benefited from a unique ‘all-in-one’ quality assurance system known as portal dosimetry that double-checks the patient will get exactly the right dose of radiation in the right position as part of a treatment technique called intensity modulated radiotherapy treatment (IMRT). IMRT is only suitable for a small number of patients and is only available in a few UK centres.

With IMRT, physicists and radiotherapists are able to shape the treatment beam to more precisely match the shape of the tumour, sparing a greater amount of surrounding tissue. This can be especially beneficial in head and neck cancers to protect the salivary glands from exposure to radiation. Using this approach, the dose can also be varied across the tumour, ensuring the more metabolically active parts of the tumour receive the most radiation.

Alison Vinall, Head of Radiotherapy Physics at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital’s Colney Centre, said, “We have treated four patients using this process to date and they’ve all managed the treatment very well. We intend to use IMRT primarily for some head and neck cancer treatments, because of the ability to spare the saliva glands from radiation. One of the primary benefits of this kind of approach is to avoid what’s known as ‘dry mouth’, where patients cannot produce saliva and find it hard to swallow after they have had radiotherapy.”

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital’s Colney Centre treats 2,200 new patients a year. The centre has three Varian Clinac linear accelerators. As an MES (managed equipment service) site, the centre benefits from regular technology and software upgrades.

Monday 9th of May 2005 10:00:29 AM