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New cancer tech to be tested in UK

03 August 2015 08:46

Two sites in the UK will be involved in the trial

Two sites in the UK will be involved in the trial

Two centres in the UK are to take part in a trial that could herald a new era of highly personalised radiotherapy.

Cancer patients in Surrey and Manchester will be treated by a revolutionary machine that scans and kills the disease at the same time.

The MR-Linac machine - of which there are only seven in the world - combines magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanning and radiation treatment.


It will initially be used in clinical trials.

The ability to view highly-detailed MRI images of a radiotherapy target site could lead to more accurate treatment with less damage to healthy tissue and fewer side-effects.

There are more than 200 different types of cancer, each with its own method of diagnosis and treatment.

CyberKnife - a cutting-edge form of radiotherapy that hits hard-to-reach tumours with high-dose targeted beams - is currently used to treat patients. It costs £3 million - and the MR-Linac machine is understood to cost more.


Cancer patients undergoing treatment can still enjoy the finer things in life.

Going on holiday, for instance, is possible thanks to cancer travel insurance.

It gives patients peace of mind just in case something happens.

Early trial

One of the MR-Linac machines will be installed at the Royal Marsden Hospital's site in Sutton, Surrey, in 2016.

An early trial to demonstrate the machine's safety and effectiveness involving about two dozen patients is currently in the planning stage.

Professor Uwe Oelfke, of the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, says a major problem for radiotherapy is that the internal anatomy of patients changes from day to day, or even from second to second.

The machine would let surgeons see what they want to treat at the time of the treatment, not just diagnostic images from a few days or weeks before the treatment - something he says is extremely important.

Patients with tumours affecting different parts of the body - including brain, head and neck, lung, oesophageal, pancreatic, breast, prostate, cervix and rectal cancer - will be recruited for the early trial.