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New radiotherapy machine changes cancer care at UHNM

The first patient to receive treatment on UHNM’s new ‘Halcyon’ radiotherapy accelerator has now completed their care journey. Mr Stephen Spooner, 74, from Alton in Staffordshire, (pictured) began his treatment for prostate cancer four-weeks-ago and has now completed his course of radiotherapy. The Halcyon machine can be used to target all areas of the body and can treat larger tumours more effectively. Patients will also benefit from shorter treatment times, considerably enhancing their experience.

Mr Spooner first realised something may be wrong when he noticed blood in his urine. He was referred for further investigation by his GP and received a diagnosis of prostate cancer in March earlier this year. He was the first patient to use the Halcyon.

Mr Spooner said: “I feel very privileged to use this machine and to be here. It has been an enlightening experience to be honest and one I’m truly grateful for. I’m really appreciative for all the care I’ve had.”

The Halcyon accelerator, costing close to two million pounds, has only recently become available in Europe and is the first ‘bore-based’ linear accelerator to be installed at the cancer centre.  The bore system means the machine has a hole in the middle and looks like a large doughnut. Patients are treated whilst lying on a couch in the centre of the machine, which uses high energy X-rays to target tumours and is able to rotate four-times-faster than more conventional machines.

Carolyn O’Donovan, Radiotherapy Service Manager, said: “We want to ensure our patients receive the latest and most efficient treatment. Radiotherapy treatment machines typically last for 10 years so when replacing them, it is very important to keep future treatments and service developments at the forefront of your thinking. This new technology advancement will ensure the treatment and experience we offer to patients remains of the highest possible quality today and into the future.”

Dr Craig Edwards, Head of Radiotherapy Physics, said: “The design of the Halcyon is sleeker and more simplified than other machines. Patient satisfaction surveys have shown that people prefer it because it looks similar to a CT or MRI machine and is therefore more familiar to them.

“For a treatment to be successful it is vital that the patient is positioned correctly and the Halcyon is 100% image-guided, producing a clear CT image of the patient before treatment in just 15 seconds. These images are then matched to those of the patient prior to treatment to ensure they are in the correct position every time. We are currently in the process of replacing all of our linear accelerators to ensure patients receive the latest and most efficient treatment for their cancer.”

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