MRI service revamp improves treatment pathway for north Cumbria patients

The addition of a Siemens Healthineers Magnetom Sola 1.5T MRI scanner at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care, North Cumbria, is a milestone for the local population. As part of the treatment pathway of radiotherapy patients, the scanner located at Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle is primarily used for diagnostic purposes.

Access for imaging cancer patients has been agreed between the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals (NUTH) and North Cumbria Integrated Care (NCIC) NHS trusts, with twice weekly imaging sessions. This follows a collaboration to restructure radiotherapy services in north Cumbria, which resulted in the acquisition of the new MRI scanner.

The radiotherapy physics, IT, diagnostic and therapeutic radiographer teams of both trusts have worked closely on preparing the scanner for radiotherapy purposes by completing training and extensive commissioning tests. The first two patients were scanned in July.

Initially this service will benefit patients with prostate cancer, before expanding the service to benefit other cancer patients over the coming months. Patients have been positive about the service, with one saying: “Everything was very professional and everyone has been lovely. The explanation of the procedure was given clearly and easy to understand.”

Head of radiotherapy Dr Shahid Iqbal commented: “As head of radiotherapy service at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care, it gives me immense pleasure that patients will now have access to MRI planning at our centre in north Cumbria. This is a significant development as it will improve the planning of radiotherapy treatments.

“Although initially available for prostate cancer patients, the service will be rolled out to other tumour sites, for example colorectal, head and neck and gynaeco- logical malignancies.”

Consultant clinical oncologist and lead for urological malignancies Dr John Frew added: “I am absolutely delighted that patients in north Cumbria will now have access to MR simulator [MR-Sim] radiotherapy planning to improve the quality of their treatment. MRI significantly improves the accuracy of prostate cancer radiotherapy, thus minimising long-term treatment side effects.

“MR-Sim will enable the roll out of prostate SABR to patients with early prostate cancer, as well as clinical trial participation with dose painting and dose escalation to dominant intra-prostatic lesions, which I am confident will become standard of care in the near future.”

Picture: Seated are NUTH pre-treatment clinical specialist Ruth Parkin and senior therapeutic radiographer Carl Oakton. Behind them are NCIC MRI lead Sam Cowton and MRI radiographer Alexa Reive with NUTH principal clinical scientist Rachael Tulip.

Published on page 15 of the October 2022 issue of RAD Magazine.

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