The UK’s first robotic CyberKnife radiotherapy machine, based at The Harley Street Clinic in central London, has just treated its 300th patient since it was commissioned two years ago.
The 300th patient was a woman treated for lung cancer under the supervision of oncologist, Dr David Landau. Until the advent of CyberKnife, many lung cancers were untreatable using radiation since tumours were frequently adjacent to soft tissue or organs that could easily be damaged.
The robotic machine has also become one of the first in Europe to receive new technology which can speed up both the planning and delivery of radiotherapy treatments. In some cases, the upgrading also allows the treatment of more types of tumours than even the original configuration would allow.
The CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System combines continuous image-guidance technology with computer-controlled robotics to deliver a prescribed dose of radiation to static or moving tumours.
The CyberKnifesystem utilises a compact linear accelerator attached to a computer-controlled robotic arm to target a number of pencil-thin beams of radiation at a tumour from many different directions with sub-millimetre accuracy. It literally ‘paints’ radiation dose around a tumour.
This approach results in a high dose of radiation concentrated within and conforming to the tumour where the beams converge.This reduces the risk of damaging healthy tissue surrounding a tumour. Because a larger dose of radiation can be delivered targeting the tumour from all angles, it also means patients have far fewer radiotherapy sessions than is the case with other radiotherapy machines.
The new enhancement for CyberKnife not only gives better image fusion of the diagnostic images and the planning CT scan, it increases its ability to target more cancers, notably lung cancers. In some cases the treatment can be carried out even faster than before.
The Chief Executive of The Harley Street Clinic, Mr Neil Buckley, said that CyberKnife had marked a step change in radiotherapy treatment in the UK.
“Speeding up treatment, making the treatment far more accurate and controllable and being able to treat more types of cancer is what we all want to achieve for our patients and we are delighted to have pioneered this technology in the UK,” he said. “Our patients can access our cancer service at any time in their ‘cancer journey’ and frequently patients will have a choice of venue for diagnostics and imaging and where they see their consultant.
“With all the new diagnostic and cancer treatment technology we have installed over the past three years or so, The Harley Street Clinic and its sister hospitals have created the most advanced cancer diagnostic treatment platform in Europe.
“We have set up an unrivalled network of diagnostic and treatment centres in and around London where patients can get fast access to some of the most distinguished cancer specialists in the world. We bring the very latest and proven treatments to this country and uniquely we also have our own phase-one clinical trials unit based here in Harley Street. We now have a comprehensive cancer service in the UK second only in size to that of the NHS,” said Mr Buckley.