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Leeds grandfather’s trailblazing cancer treatment is UK first

Ron Earnshaw, 78, who is being treated with Versa HD Radiotherapy System, pictured with two of the radiography team,  Kelly Picken and Amanda Mullarkey.

Ron Earnshaw, 78, who is being treated with Versa HD Radiotherapy System, pictured with two of the radiography team, Kelly Picken and Amanda Mullarkey.

  • by Katie Baldwin
 

cancer patients in Yorkshire are benefiting from world-leading treatment at a Leeds hospital.

Two state-of-the-art radiotherapy machines – the first of their kind in the UK and only the second in the world – are now
in operation at St James’s Hospital.

The cutting edge technology can cut treatment times by up to a third and reduces unpleasant side effects for patients.

Ron Earnshaw was the first in the country to undergo radiotherapy using the new system and said he was delighted.

The grandad from Tingley, Leeds, is being treated for prostate cancer.

He said: “They did tell me I would be the first to use it and I’m quite pleased.

“I am hoping it will kill the cancer off.”

The revolutionary machines at the hospital’s Bexley Wing mark the latest development in cancer care in the region.

Through a partnership between Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and international medical equipment manufacturer Elekta, doctors have been working to continually improve technology.

The new Versa HD Radiotherapy Systems are more accurate than ever before, meaning radiation is targeted to the shape of the tumour, avoiding healthy tissue.

Mr Earnshaw was diagnosed with prostate cancer earlier this year and is in the midst of seven weeks of intensive radiotherapy.

The 78-year-old said the treatment was painless and problem-free.

Consultant physicist John Lilley said two radiotherapy machines were due for replacement and that had been brought forward to allow them to install the new versions.

Medics have worked with the manufacturers over the past two years to remove a filter which was previously needed.

“The biggest development is about the speed,” he added.

“Removing that filter has reduced some treatment times – the time the radiotherapy beam is on – by a third. We can treat more patients and it’s better because they are on the couch less.”

The beams are also more accurately targeted to the shape of the tumour, using moveable “fingers” on the machine, making treatment less invasive.

Dr Lilley added: “It’s really great that there’s no technology in the world that’s better than this.

“And it’s great that we can treat our patients with the best technology.”

 
 
 

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