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Royal Surrey’s New High-tec Machine Uses AI To Target Cancer Tumours

Published on: 27 Jan, 2021
Updated on: 27 Feb, 2021

Ethos machine radiotherapy team

The Royal Surrey has launched online adaptive radiotherapy treatment, a revolutionary technique that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to target tumours with extreme precision and provides a personalised plan for cancer patients on each day of their treatment.

The Trust has invested about £2 million in setting up adaptive radiotherapy treatment using the Varian Ethos© machine. This is only the second of its type in use in the UK and fully rolled out will help 175 cancer patients a year.

The machine’s AI software helps the radiotherapy team adapt and update each patient’s treatment plan in real-time, according to a patient’s anatomy on the day.

This online adaptive approach to radiotherapy has the potential to improve treatment accuracy and consequently reduce the dose delivered to surrounding organs, thereby decreasing radiation side-effects.

Patient Peter Gable and Ethos radiotherapy machine

Patient experience has been at the centre of the design of the treatment room, using SkyInside© ceiling panels and calming lighting to help soothe and distract patients during treatment. They have a choice of overhead projections to watch, including beautiful underwater scenes, rain forest canopies, cherry blossom trees and starry night skies.

Marianne Dabbs, associate director of operations for oncology, said: “The Ethos AI software lets us fine-tune and tailor patients’ treatments on the day to take into account any changes affecting their body, such as weight gain, or bladder or bowel emptiness compared with when they had their planning scan.

“It has many benefits, including anticipated improved accuracy. The environment is a fabulous space to improve experiences of both the patients and staff. There is also the potential for it to reduce the need for some invasive procedures where ‘markers’ are inserted to aid tumour location during radiotherapy.”

Peter Gable, 66, who was diagnosed with bladder cancer in April last year, is the first patient to receive the new online adaptive treatment. He said: “It’s brilliant to have the chance to try out this new treatment with the latest technology.

“It looks a lot less clinical and daunting when I go into the treatment room and I can see how it’s going to make things simpler and easier for me.

“I really liked seeing the different scenes on the overhead screen in the scanner and being able to choose what music I could listen to as well.”

Louise Stead, chief executive of Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust, said: “A great deal of work has gone into researching and investing in the best available options to treat our cancer patients and we’re excited to have this ground-breaking technology to help us achieve the very best health outcomes for them.

“We are extremely proud to be in the forefront of radiotherapy treatment and taking advantage of the latest AI software technology. There are only 10 countries offering this treatment and only one other Trust in the UK.

“At a time when the NHS is under extreme pressure from the Covid pandemic, it is a lovely boost for our patients and staff to launch this new pioneering treatment.”

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