A revolutionary technique to tackle cancer has slashed treatment times for Yorkshire patients.
A Leeds pensioner was the one of the first to undergo the cutting-edge radiotherapy procedure which is up to six times faster than conventional treatments.
It was carried out at St James’s Hospital on a specialist research linear accelerator, which provides radiotherapy, partly funded by Yorkshire Evening Post readers through the paper’s Yorkshire Cancer Centre fundraising appeal.
Alan Needham, lead research radiographer for radiotherapy at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Being able to deliver complex treatments in such a short time will make these techniques even safer than before, as we can better guarantee that accuracy is maintained throughout the critical time the dose is being delivered.
“As well as minimising risk, it is a much better experience for the patient and has the added benefit of freeing up time on our treatment units.”
The new Flattening Filter Free (FFF) technique means a filter which usually flattens the radiation beam is not needed and using computer technology, treatment can be given at higher doses.
It means complex, high-dose radiotherapy for lung cancer patients is delivered in under two minutes.
Margaret Johnson, from Morley, was one of the first to have the pioneering treatment after a shadow on her lung turned out to be lung cancer.
The 86-year-old could not have surgery but was able to be treated using the new high-dose radiotherapy technique.
She said: “I wasn’t looking forward to the treatment but it has been a very pleasant surprise for it to be so quick and painless.
“All the staff have been very reassuring and have put me at my ease.”
Staff at St James’s undertook months of research on the equipment in conjunction with specialist company, Elekta, the manufacturer of the linear accelerators at the hospital.
The equipment has been installed on one of two machines dedicated to research, which were funded by the hospital’s Yorkshire Cancer Centre Appeal – for which YEP readers raised £3m in 2008.
A research agreement with Elekta is in place at the hospital because it is home to the hi-tech equipment paid for by the charity, allowing breakthroughs in treatment to be developed.
Dr Vivian Cosgrove, head of radiotherapy physics at St James’s, added: “We are delighted to be developing and testing a product which could help improve treatment for future cancer patients all around the world, and are proud of achieving another first for the team here at the St James’s Institute of Oncology.”