Charity-funded MRI simulator enables targeted radiotherapy for cancer patients in Yorkshire

Staff at Leeds Cancer Centre have celebrated the official opening of an MRI simulator that is expected to greatly improve radiotherapy treatment at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. The high definition images produced by the Philips MRI simulator will enable patients to receive more precise, targeted treatments while reducing the risk of treatment-related side effects.

In 2017, Leeds Hospitals Charity launched its £2.4 million MR Sim fund-raising appeal to purchase the equipment. Through the generosity of the people of Leeds and contributions from Sovereign Health Care, Caravan Guard and the Wilby, Cavill and Scarcliffe families, the target was met in 2019. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, installation was delayed until late 2022 and it opened to patients in April 2023.

In March, Joanna Williams from Temple Newsam was diagnosed with a high grade glioma and was among the first patients to benefit from treatment using this new equipment. “I am about to start chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment for my brain tumour,” she explained. “I recently came to the radiotherapy department at Leeds Cancer Centre to have my radiotherapy mask moulded and underwent an MRI scan on the new machine. The team told me about this technology and how this will improve treatment and outcomes for thousands of patients who are treated in Leeds every year.

“I’m so grateful to everyone who has donated to help cancer patients like me. The whole experience was less daunting than my previous scans as the machine told me how long each scanning process would take.”

Professor of clinical oncology David Sebag-Montefiore is director of the Leeds Cancer Research Centre and CRUK RadNet Centre of Excellence in Leeds. He said: “For decades we have been limited to using CT scans to see the tumour and plan radiotherapy for patients. Through groundbreaking research performed here in Leeds and other research centres across the world we are now able to use MRI scans to provide more targeted treatment.

“The Leeds radiotherapy team worked closely with Leeds Hospitals Charity and world-leading industry partners to realise this project, which will be transformational, allowing us to more precisely target tumours. As well as benefiting patients treated today, the MRI simulator provides the opportunity for patients to participate in radiotherapy research that will help us make progress quicker and find new ways to develop smarter, kinder radiotherapy treatments.”

Managed equipment services provider Ergéa was involved in the project. Executive vice president and director of strategic relationships John Muolo said: “For this project, we worked closely with hospital staff through the design, commissioning and installation of the equipment to ensure its full functionality, and we will continue providing ongoing support including main- tenance and training.”

Picture: Neil Sorby, Emily Dye, Mark Teo and Sam Kain of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Stephen McMillan of Philips, John Muolo of Ergéa, trust staff Richard Speight and Helen Christodoulides, Nicholas Page of Philips, Professor David Sebag-Montefiore of Leeds University and LTHT research collaborations, with trust staff Vivian Cosgrove, Bashar Al-Qaisieh and Sarah Whittle.

Published on page 28 of the July 2023 issue of RAD Magazine.

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