Jeremy Hunt joined staff, patients and dignitaries at a special ceremony to signal the start of Intracranial Stereotactic Radiotherapy on Friday, December 11.
The cutting edge technique, which can be used on both cancerous and benign tumours, has been made possible after £1 million was raised through fundraising to help purchase the state-of-the-art equipment.
Intracranial Stereotactic Radiotherapy is highly accurate and allows patients to receive a high dose of treatment in one sitting, rather than having to attend multiple sessions over a number of weeks.
The machine, TrueBeam STx with Novalis Radiosurgery Program, works by precisely aiming radiotherapy beams at the tumour from many different directions around the patient’s head.
The system combines the latest technologies for imaging, treatment planning, and delivery from two leading medical device manufacturers Varian and Brainlab to offer new and advanced possibilities in radiation treatment for patients.
Doctors use specialist software to pinpoint the exact location of the growth and then use a robotic couch, to accurately position the patient.
Due to its precision, less of the patient’s healthy tissue is exposed to radiation, which reduces the risk of side effects.
The technology can also be used for the treatment of tumours outside the brain, for instance in the lungs, liver, prostate and pancreas.
The specialist equipment was provided by Brainlab and Varian, who both sponsored the launch event and clinical talk.
Graham Healey was the first patient to undergo Intracranial Stereotactic Radiotherapy after it was determined that surgery on a brain lesion could prove problematic.
The 66-year-old has previously undergone both chemotherapy and radiotherapy for other growths.
“It was a good experience and the support team was absolutely magnificent.” he said.
“There was no discomfort or pain during the treatment and the doctors think that the one session was the most suitable prescription. During previous treatments (chemotherapy/Radiotherapy) I had a number of repeat visits to the hospital.
“The remarkable thing about it was within twenty minutes of treatment I was able to go to a local pub and enjoy a cappuccino with my wife.”
Dr Richard Shaffer, consultant oncologist, said: ‘I am delighted we are now able to offer this new radiotherapy treatment that will greatly benefit our patients.
‘Previously, those who need Intracranial Stereotactic Radiotherapy had to travel into London.
‘The first group of patients that we are treating are those with secondary brain tumours. These are tumours that have developed after cancerous cells have spread from elsewhere in the body. The technique has been found to increase survival and tumour control for these patients.”
Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP said: “It is wonderful to have another good news story from the NHS and particularly the improvements in cancer treatment we can offer in the UK.
“Equipment like this is invaluable and already proving its worth for patients suffering from inoperable brain tumours.
“We should be very proud of the services offered to patients here at the Royal Surrey and especially the fantastic staff who do some amazing work.”