Cancer patients at Derriford Hospital to benefit from new treatment
CITY patients with cancer of the head and neck are to benefit from a revolutionary new treatment.
Cancer patients at Derriford Hospital have been benefiting from the introduction of a new radiation treatment for over a year.
And, thanks to a further technological advance, this treatment can now be given in a quicker, more efficient way, the hospital has said.
Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust has treated more than 100 patients with Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy (IMRT). The trust is the only centre on the peninsula to routinely offer this technique to patients with cancer of the mouth, neck and throat.
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It allows the clinical team to target the tumour more specifically and deliver radiotherapy to the exact area they need to, without damaging other areas. Volumetrically Modulated Arc Therapy (VMAT) is the state-of-the-art technique for delivering IMRT, and it has just been introduced in Plymouth.
Dr Amy Roy, consultant clinical oncologist, who specialises in head and neck cancer patients, said: "The installation of a new radiotherapy machine at Derriford Hospital and the hard work of the team of physics staff and the clinical scientists mean that we can now routinely deliver IMRT for head and neck cancer patients and we are starting to expand this to other cancer patients such as breast and prostate. Radiotherapy to the mouth, throat and neck is very uncomfortable for patients because high doses of radiotherapy are required to treat the cancers but this is a very sensitive part of the body.
"The side-effects can be quite severe and can be long lasting. IMRT allows us to target the tumour specifically, whilst avoiding the mouth and glands.
"VMAT is another step forward in improving patient care. Treatments used to take up to 40 minutes per day. This is a long time for patients to lie perfectly still wearing a mask. VMAT brings the treatment time down to just a few minutes, which is better for the patients and means we have more time available on the machine to offer this complex treatment to other cancer patients."
It is anticipated that 70 patients with head and neck cancer will benefit from this treatment every year.