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Inside Europe’s most advanced radiotherapy centre

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An MRI machine being used in a hospital.

Europe’s most advanced radiotherapy centre has opened in London. HT World spoke to the team behind it to find out more.

The new centre will give patients access to three of the industry’s most sophisticated radiotherapy technologies; the only facility in Europe to house all of these under one roof.  

The GenesisCare Centre for Radiotherapy at Bupa Cromwell Hospital has opened its doors to treat patients with difficult to-treat-cancers. It is currently available to patients with health insurance and for those paying for their own care, however some NHS patients will be able to access the treatments through a select group of NHS Trusts.

The facility will house three cutting-edge radiotherapy technologies, which are said to be the most advanced machines of their kind in the world.

The centre specialises in complex and difficult-to-treat tumours including cancers of the abdomen, central nervous system (brain and spine), head and neck, breast and prostate cancers. GenesisCare says the three devices (MRIdian MR Linac, Gamma Knife Icon and Varian Edge) will allow for precise cancer treatment in fewer sessions.

This is GenesisCare’s fourteenth centre in the UK.

Speaking to HT World, the company says it has a number of other projects in progress, including a new specialist centre being built in partnership with Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust in Guildford.

The opening of the centre at Cromwell Hospital comes as a recent investigation by DATA-CAN, the Health Care Research Hub for Cancer, found that COVID-19 could potentially cause an extra 35,000 cancer deaths due to delays in diagnosis and treatments during the pandemic.

GenesisCare says centres like this will play a crucial role in ensuring essential treatments are not delayed and patients receive the care they need.

GenesisCare UK general manager, James McArthur, says: “We’re delighted to be opening GenesisCare’s 14th cancer treatment centre in UK, right in the heart of London.

“We are also pleased to extend our partnership with BUPA Cromwell to provide a seamless care pathway, adopting the latest techniques essential for achieving the right care outcomes. This is of significant importance right now to ensure cancer patients receive the best care possible and don’t delay essential treatment.”

Although the treatments are primarily available for patients paying for their own care and those with health insurance, GenesisCare says it aims to make its services available to as many patients as possible.

The company has ongoing relationships with a select group of NHS Trusts. Its partnership with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust provides patients with access to the Gamma Knife Icon. These patients can be referred from anywhere in the UK for intercranial treatment for a variety of brain conditions.

GenesisCare’s neuro-oncology lead, Dr Anup Vinayan says: “The Gamma Knife Icon is one of the most sophisticated systems for stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) delivering the highest possible accuracy.

“SRS targets tumours at many different angles around the body at the same time with the beams meeting at a single point. This delivers a high dose of radiation to the tumour while ensuring the healthy tissue around it receives a much lower dose and reduces the risk of side effects.

“It is often called ‘brain-sparing’ surgery because of its ability to protect healthy brain tissue and preserve quality of life for people needing treatment for brain tumours.”

More recently, GenesisCare launched a partnership with Oxford University, Pancreatic Cancer Research UK and medical device company, ViewRay, to treat NHS patients on the MRIdian MRLinac without charge from Spring 2020.

ViewRay’s MRIdian MR Linac will be available at the hospital from early 2021, making it the first of its kind in London for non-research use. It allows clinicians to ‘see as they treat’, using live images of the tumour and surrounding healthy tissue to continually adjust the radiation beam for more precise treatment targeting.

The Varian Edge Linac is designed to deliver stereotactic brain and spinal surgery and stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR), which is used for small tumours elsewhere in the body. Stereotactic radiotherapy is a cancer treatment that targets tumours in fewer high-dose treatments that preserve healthy tissue

The technology can also deliver volumetric modulated arc therapy, a treatment used for a wide range of cancer types.

Hospital director at Bupa Cromwell Hospital, Philip Luce, says: “As cancer rates continue to rise it is encouraging that we’re finding new ways to give people access to better and quicker treatment.

“We’re proud to be opening this new radiotherapy facility which will provide our UK and international patients with cutting-edge treatment, resulting in better outcomes.”

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