Latest CyberKnife treats first patients at The Royal Marsden

Cancer patients at The Royal Marsden in Sutton are now able to benefit from the latest radiotherapy technology following the arrival of a CyberKnife system this summer, funded by The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

The Accuray CyberKnife system is a 3D image-guided intensity modulated radiation therapy (IG-IMRT) system that includes treatment planning, imaging and delivery. The latest model combines speed, advanced precision and real-time AI-driven motion tracking and synchronisation, which means it is able to deliver treatment more efficiently than before. Having the additional feature of a multi-leaf collimator head means faster treatment delivery with sessions lasting as little as 15 minutes.

Based in Sutton’s radiotherapy department, this is The Royal Marsden’s second CyberKnife and said to be the only model of its kind in the UK. The Royal Marsden London installed CyberKnife in its Chelsea hospital in 2011, which has since treated nearly 3,000 patients and been the focus of international research including the PACE-B prostate cancer trial. Medical director and consultant clinical oncologist Dr Nicholas van As is chief investigator on the PACE-B trial. He said: “The new CyberKnife in Sutton will enable even more patients to have access to the latest technology for radiotherapy treatment, which is an extremely positive step forward, especially as the installation follows the recent announcement from NHS England around expanding and accelerating stereotactic ablative radiotherapy treatments to more patients across the NHS.

“The machine’s non-invasive robotic arm can be positioned at almost any angle, so it is ideal for treating hard to reach tumours, including brain, spine, lung and neck, and research has shown encouraging results with prostate cancer patients being cured in as little as one or two weeks from this type of treatment – a significant reduction from the current standard of one to two months.”

Davina Colton from Devon is the first patient to access the new multi-leaf collimator feature, which has halved her treatment session time. She said: “After seven years of being cancer free following my original diagnosis of ovarian cancer, I was told it had returned in my lymph nodes and that having radiotherapy on the CyberKnife would be the best way to target any remaining cancer cells that couldn’t be removed through surgery. Knowing that my treatment sessions were only about 20 minutes long rather than an hour and to be able to have such focused sessions over three days has made a huge difference.”

The CyberKnife at The Royal Marsden will be the focus of further research to improve radiotherapy treatments across a range of cancers, supported by The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity in partnership with the Institute of Cancer Research, London and Cancer Research UK. This includes the PACE-C trial, which is researching whether prostate cancer can be cured in just five treatments.

Published on the front page of the October 2020 issue of RAD Magazine.

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