Velindre Cancer Centre has begun using stereotactic radiosurgery, meaning patients who previously had to travel to Sheffield can now receive treatment in Wales.
Stereotactic radiosurgery is a modern, more precise way of delivering radiotherapy – it sends high doses of radiation to tumours and causes less damage to surrounding healthy tissue than conventional radiotherapy.
Manon Rhys, from Cardiff, was one of the first patients to receive stereotactic radiosurgery treatment at Velindre Cancer Centre after she was diagnosed with a benign tumour inside her ear.
She said: “Having my treatment at Velindre Cancer Centre was brilliant as it’s so close to home and meant I didn’t have to travel to the north of England, which may have taken three or four days when you take the travelling time into account.
“Velindre shines like a beacon and all the staff there were so caring, friendly and knowledgeable – I couldn’t have received better treatment anywhere else.
“Having this specialist treatment at Velindre made me so grateful that we have such cutting edge equipment and expertise in Wales.”
A new linear accelerator, funded by a £4.6m Welsh Government investment, was carefully selected by experts at the cancer centre and is now being used to treat hundreds of patients in Wales each year.
The Varian TrueBeam STX, combined with Novalis Radiosurgery technology from Brainlab, delivers stereotactic radiosurgery which will be used to treat patients with complex needs, such as benign brain tumours.
The machine is one of the most advanced of its kind, targeting tumours with pinpoint accuracy. But importantly, it can also deliver standard treatments to meet the needs of hundreds of cancer patients who require standard radiotherapy each year.
The TrueBeam offers faster treatment with accuracy to the millimetre. It delivers radiation therapy more efficiently to reduce side effects and shorten the time needed for treatment, enabling patients to have a much better experience.
It will provide the stereotactic radiosurgery service, which involves the precise delivery of a single fraction of high-dose radiation, usually within the skull.
The new stereotactic radiosurgery treatment will be used to treat about 120 patients this year, but more than 300 patients every year once the service is fully developed.
The machine is also being used to provide stereotactic ablative body radiotherapy (SABR) for a selected group of lung cancer patients, delivering high dose radiation over few days to minimise damage to surrounding tissues.
The new service ensures Velindre Cancer Centre will continue to take part in vital research, with the prospect of leading to further breakthroughs in cancer treatment in the future. This will also ensure that Wales will continue to attract and retain the best cancer specialists to use and develop these services.
Dr Jacinta Abraham, Clinical Director at Velindre Cancer Centre, said: “This is great news for Velindre Cancer Centre and NHS Wales. This world-class technology enables us to deliver safer, more effective, and more convenient treatment to patients in Wales.
“The new linear accelerator provides the full range of technologies and techniques that our patients require and those who would have previously had to travel as far as Sheffield for treatment are now able to receive their treatment here at Velindre Cancer Centre.”
Velindre Cancer Centre will work closely with the South West Wales Cancer Centre at Singleton Hospital, Swansea, to support and deliver the stereotactic radiosurgery service for NHS Wales patients.
Professor Roger Taylor, from the South West Wales Cancer Centre, said: “Patients from all over South Wales who are potentially suitable will have access to this technology. Their cases will be discussed at a combined Cardiff-Swansea multidisciplinary team meeting.”
Health Minister Mark Drakeford said: “We provided £4.6m investment to help to bring this cutting-edge treatment to Velindre and to ensure Welsh people could be treated closer to home.
“Velindre is leading the way in the UK in developing and delivering new treatment technologies for cancer, with support from the Welsh Government.”
Source: Velindre Cancer Centre