Mount Vernon gets £4.5 million radiotherapy upgrade

As part of its on-going, rolling modernisation programme, the Mount Vernon Cancer Centre has replaced two of its oldest linear accelerators with state-of-the-art TrueBeamTM machines. The new facilities, which are costing £3.7 million to create, are able to deliver intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), which provides patients with more accurate treatment than is possible with most conventional radiotherapy.

IMRT is suitable for use on a range of cancers, especially those occurring in the head and neck, lung and pelvis. The machines are also able to provide treatments using RapidArc™, which is a fast and efficient way to deliver IMRT.
A further £0.75 million has also been invested at Mount Vernon to upgrade the software systems used on all eight linear accelerators at the cancer centre to support the use of IMRT across the service. It has also made possible the upgrade of one of the existing linear accelerators with new hardware, thus increasing the number of machines capable of delivering IMRT at the cancer centre.

This important development, together with the additional funding for upgrading the cancer centre’s existing software and hardware systems provided through the National Radiotherapy Innovation Fund, will allow Mount Vernon team to offer IMRT to more patients than was possible previously.

Commenting on the new services, the Trust’s divisional chair for cancer services and consultant clinical oncologist, Dr Catherine Lemon, said:

“Staff at Mount Vernon are delighted to be one of a handful of cancer centres in the UK to have two TrueBeam machines, which allow us to offer the most sophisticated techniques of radiotherapy routinely to our patients. Current radiotherapy techniques include IMRT, which adjusts the shape of the radiotherapy beam that targets precisely the tumour and limits the radiation dose to normal surrounding tissues. This reduces the side-effects of radiotherapy treatment that patients may experience, whilst at the same time giving us an opportunity to increase the dose to the cancer – which can improve cure rates.

“Although currently we are able to offer IMRT at Mount Vernon, these two new machines will improve our capacity considerably. Our investment in these new facilities, allied to the software and hardware upgrades made possible by the
National Radiotherapy Innovation Fund, will allow us to offer IMRT to even more patients than was possible previously.

“Another advantage of our new TrueBeam machines is that they are able to deliver treatment more quickly. Standard IMRT treatments can last 10 to 15 minutes each, but when using our new machines it can be done in just two minutes – which clearly improves the experience of our patients.”

Congratulating Mount Vernon on becoming the first radiotherapy department in the UK to install two TrueBeam linear accelerators, David Scott from manufacturer Varian Medical Systems said:

“TrueBeam treatment machines offer a number of technical innovations that dynamically synchronize imaging, patient positioning, motion management and treatment delivery. Equipped with RapidArc technology, the system enables the
most modern and advanced radiotherapy treatments to be delivered with optimum efficiency and precision.”