Hospital trust named specialist centre for brain tumour treatment

Cancer experts at Southampton’s teaching hospitals are set to perform some of the most advanced and specialist forms of treatment for brain tumours.

University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust has been selected by NHS England as one of only 16 centres in the country to carry out stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and radiotherapy (SRT).

The technology enables highly-precise beams of radiation to the treatment area, which allows clinicians to increase dosage without damaging healthy surrounding tissue and ensures patients suffer fewer side effects.

As SRS and SRT are performed by specialist teams which include oncologists, radiographers and physicists, they can only be provided at a limited number of sites.

The service at Southampton General Hospital, which will see around 200 patients a year from across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, South Wiltshire and parts of West Sussex, will deliver the treatments using modified linear accelerators (linacs).

UHS has introduced a number of new forms of treatment in recent years, including intensity modulated radiation therapy and image-guided radiation therapy, while the trust has also launched a £20 million linac replacement programme which will see the installation of six new machines, two CT scanners and radiotherapy planning software.

In addition, clinicians at UHS recently unveiled the UK’s first Mobetron machine, a revolutionary mobile device which can deliver electron beam radiotherapy during surgery.

The system, funded by the charity PLANETS, which is one-eighth the size of a standard external beam linac, will be used initially to treat patients with pancreatic, neuroendocrine, colorectal and bladder tumours.

Nationally, the number of patients receiving SRS and SRT will more than double over the next three years, from 2,400 in 2014-15 to more than 6,200 a year by 2018-19. Prior to the development of specialist centres nationwide, patients selected to receive SRS or SRT were required to travel to Bristol, London or Sheffield.

Dr Geoff Sharpe, a consultant neuro-oncologist at UHS, said: “This is fantastic news for our service and patients across the south who will benefit from faster access to these advanced forms of brain tumour treatment much closer to home.

“Our oncology centre continues to grow and we are delighted to add another development which will ensure we remain at the forefront of developments in cancer treatment across the country.”

Dr Jonathan Fielden, NHS England’s Director of Specialised Services, said: “As a result of this procurement, thousands more patients will benefit from this very precise and effective form of treatment.

“This is another example of how NHS England is working hard to achieve better services and outcomes for patients at the same time as better value for the health service.”

Posted on Friday 1 July 2016