Staff at Leeds Cancer Centre are celebrating the official opening of a new MRI Simulator which is set to revolutionise radiotherapy treatment at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.
The high-definition, high-contrast images produced by MR Sim will enable patients to receive more precise, targeted treatments while reducing the risk of treatment related side-effects.
The new technology has the potential to benefit patients with a wide range of cancers, including the head-and-neck, pelvis and brain.
David Sebag-Montefiore is Professor of Clinical Oncology at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and the University of Leeds, and Director of the Leeds Cancer Research Centre and the CRUK RadNet Centre of Excellence in Leeds.
He said: “The Leeds radiotherapy team worked closely with Leeds Hospitals Charity, and world-leading industry partners to realise this project which will be transformational, allowing us to more precisely target tumours.
“As well as benefiting patients treated today, the MR Sim provides the opportunity for patients to participate in radiotherapy research that will help us make progress quicker and find new ways to develop “smarter, kinder.”
“We are so grateful to Leeds Hospitals Charity and all of the donors for their amazing support – this would not have happened without it.”
In 2017, Leeds Hospitals Charity launched a £2.4 million fundraising appeal to purchase the state-of-the-art machine.
And in 2019, thanks to the generosity of the people of Leeds and significant contributions from Sovereign Health Care, the Wilby family, Caravan Guard, the Cavill family and the Scarcliffe family, the target was met.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, installation of the machine was delayed until late 2022, first opening to patients in April 2023.
The radiotherapy department at Leeds Cancer Centre is one of a handful of radiotherapy departments in the country to offer this cutting-edge imaging technology to benefit patients.
Last year, the radiotherapy department, one of the largest in Europe, delivered 80,000 treatments to nearly 7,000 patients from across Yorkshire.
In March 2023, 47-year-old Joanna Williams from Temple Newsam was diagnosed with a brain tumour called a high grade glioma, and was one of the first patients to benefit from treatment using the new equipment.
She said: “I recently came to the radiotherapy department at Leeds Cancer Centre to have my radiotherapy mask mould and underwent an MRI scan using the new charity-funded machine.
“The team told me about this new technology and how this will improve treatment and outcomes for thousands of patients who are treated in Leeds every year.
“I’m so grateful to everyone who has donated to help cancer patients like me.
“The whole experience was less daunting than my previous scans as the machine told me how long each scanning process would take. This which helped reassure me that the scan would be finished soon and made me feel calmer and more comfortable.”
Esther Wakeman, CEO of Leeds Hospitals Charity, said: “As the charity for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, we are committed to funding the best cutting-edge equipment to improve outcomes for patients.
“The new MR Simulator is already making a huge difference to patients undergoing radiotherapy every week by providing more targeted treatment.
“I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to all of our donors who contributed to this appeal, it’s thanks to your support that we’re able to help Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust provide patients with the best possible care and support.”