Addenbrooke’s celebrates the role of patients in improving radiotherapy services

A new display at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, highlights how patients have helped shape radiotherapy treatment.

The multimedia installation in the entrance to the radiotherapy department has been produced in partnership with a group of patients, some of whom have shared their experience of radiotherapy treatment.

In 2019 Cambridge was named by Cancer Research UK as one of seven centres of excellence in radiation research. When former Addenbrooke’s senior radiographer Rachael Webster heard the news, she decided to include patients’ experiences and views in the new RadNet Cambridge centre’s plans to improve radiotherapy for future patients.

She said: “After a chat with one of our patient representatives we thought the best way to get more people involved in radiotherapy research is to celebrate the amazing work from patients and the public over many, many years that has helped shape the radiotherapy services we see today.”

The idea to develop a display about patient involvement in radiotherapy research began a year ago when Webster put out advertisements inviting people who had experience of radiotherapy to be involved in a creative project. She soon assembled a group of nine patients and members of the public who were keen to be involved.

“Involving patients was the goal from the very beginning – we need to hear the patients’ voices to celebrate the patients’ voices,” she explained. “There are a lot of misconceptions and fears about radiotherapy, especially from the past. We know radiotherapy is a safe, accurate and effective treatment for many cancers, and around 50 per cent of patients will receive radiotherapy as part of their treatment.”

People joined the group for different reasons. One patient said: “I wanted to be involved in the project so that I could help to promote the modern science of radiotherapy and how it can benefit patients.”

The display is based around a timeline illustrating how key advances in radiation research, patient participation in radiotherapy clinical trials and patient campaign groups have shaped the service today. QR codes encourage people to download podcasts and videos to hear more about radiotherapy techniques and patient experiences.

The display also highlights the pioneering radiotherapy research at Cambridge. A clinical trial of over a thousand patients proved the benefits of using intensity modulated radiotherapy for early stage breast cancer and provided evidence to help it become a standard of care.

RadNet Cambridge lead Professor Charlotte Coles said: “I am thrilled to see this display showcasing the invaluable and essential contribution patients make by actively shaping as well as participating in radiotherapy research.

“I hope that conveying the incredible advances in radiotherapy research in such an accessible and relatable way will give patients and families added confidence in their radiotherapy and inspire them to get involved in research.”

The project has been funded by Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust with additional funding and support from RadNet Cambridge and Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre.

Picture: Head of radiotherapy Jemma Chapman, former Addenbrooke’s senior radiographer Rachael Webster and RadNet Cambridge lead Professor Charlotte Coles.

Published on page 2 of the October 2022 issue of RAD Magazine.

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