Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust has delivered a UK first by treating a patient with cervix cancer using CT scan-based adaptive radiotherapy, thanks to new state-of-the-art technology.
Acquired by the Trust in 2020, the Varian adaptive radiotherapy machine Ethos® therapy, uses artificial intelligence (AI) to deliver prescription dose to tumours. The AI technology uses daily CT scans to target radiotherapy with precision, avoiding damage to healthy tissue and limiting side-effects.
Clinicians at Royal Surrey are the first in the UK to treat a cervix cancer patient using this technique. Emma McCormick, 43, from West Sussex, was diagnosed with cancer in April this year and was referred to St Luke’s Cancer Centre at Royal Surrey.
Emma, who works as a leisure centre manager, said: “It was a huge shock to get the diagnosis, but my consultant, Dr Stewart and her team have been amazing. I feel very confident and reassured that I’m in the best hands.”
“Dr Stewart told me about the new radiotherapy treatment, how advanced it is and that it would be ideal for my treatment. I knew I would be the first cervix cancer patient to be treated with CT-based adaptive radiotherapy in the UK, but I didn’t have any reservations. I completely trust the team and I know that they are doing the absolute best for me.”
The advantages of using adaptive radiotherapy is that it offers a more patient-friendly form of treatment, using artificial intelligence software to give a personalized plan for each individual.
Dr Alex Stewart said: “Normally the patient would have a scan before their radiotherapy with bladder full and one with bladder empty because the cervix moves a lot according to bladder filling. Then we work out a plan for radiotherapy based on all the positions the cervix may be in on the day of treatment. But using the Ethos machine, the patient lies on the treatment couch and the machine works out where the treatment is targeted, based on the exact location of the cervix.
“It gives a much more accurate dosage and helps decrease radiotherapy exposure to organs that surround the tumour.”
When she was approaching the end of her five-week course of radiotherapy, Emma said: “From day one, the team looking after me have been amazing. It’s been very reassuring seeing the same people each time I come in and they have been really good at talking me through everything and answering my questions.
“They’re incredibly kind and thoughtful. When I had my first treatment, I was wearing Disney™ socks and the radiographers looking after me played the appropriate Disney™ theme tune on the machine for me. It’s a running joke now that they play a different theme tune depending on which socks I’m wearing.
“I do feel extremely privileged to be the first cervix cancer patient in the UK being treated with this new technology. And if it helps the team with their research and helps other people, then that’s a really good thing too.”
Louise Stead, Chief Executive at the Trust, said: “I am very proud of how we are leading the way in this area of adaptive radiotherapy. The Trust is fortunate to have extremely strong physics and research departments that excel at what they do.
“The dedication, commitment and hard work of all the staff in the department is also key to achieving this UK first. Congratulations and well done to all those involved.”