External beam radiotherapy
The department currently has 4 Elekta linear accelerators all with dynamic Multi-leaf collimators and Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy ( IMRT) capability. We also have Image Guided Radiotherapy (IGRT) using on-board Cone Beam CT. We have a Gulmay machine for superficial treatments, eg: skin cancers. Plans for stereotactic radiotherapy development at the cancer centre will involve commissioning of a CyberKnifeTM unit in 2014. The department has an active IMRT programme and is also treating patients with rotational IMRT (VMAT) for prostate cancer – this has the added advantage of incorporating optimal conformality and reducing treatment time. <more info>
High dose rate(HDR) Brachytherapy
We are currently developing brachytherapy for the treatment of gynaecological and prostate cancer. The new Nucleotron HDR machine will be commissioned and ready for clinical use in March 2014. The machine uses an Iridium 192 source
Patients requiring radiotherapy are planned using Computed Tomography (CT) scans. Simpler treatments are planned on clinical findings. We use diagnostic imaging with X-rays, CT scans, bone scans and PET/ CT scans to assist with radiotherapy planning. The radiotherapy department has a dedicated Phillips Multi-slice CT scanner. Complex 3D planning is undertaken using Oncentra Masterplan™, and also an inverse planning module. Simpler 2D radiotherapy planning is undertaken using a Prosoma virtual simulation package. We are also commissioning 4D planning (allowing for repiratory motion) for use in the treatment of relevant tumour types. We use MRI and PET/CT scans for radiotherapy planning. And MRI and CT fusion is in routine use for brain and prostate radiotherapy.
Radiotherapy dosimetry (computer based treatment planning mentioned above) is carried out by dosimetrists and medical physics. Each treatment plan is independently checked, either using a different computer system or a check measurement on quality assurance equipment on the treatment unit. The physics department works with the National School of Healthcare Science to provide training for Healthcare Scientists for the Department of Health’s Modernising Scientific programme. <more info>
We are a team of 45 radiographers who are extremely passionate about the services that we deliver for patients. There is an innovative approach to work with radiographer led review services and advanced practitioners undertaking breast planning. We are well respected for our commitment to research, with considerable involvement of radiographers. Our student clinical learning and support, linked to Portsmouth and South Bank Universities, is noted as being a credit to the centre with a high retention rate of newly qualified staff.
We encourage an ethos of service improvement at all levels within the organisation and expect our staff to take an active role in bringing about changes for the benefit of our patients. From the moment a patient or visitor walks through the front doors to the centre, our staff will always endeavour to help, reassure and make the radiotherapy experience as seamless as possible.
Patients required immobilisation for radiotherapy planning. For brain and head treatments a custom made thermosplatic shell is required prior to the radiotherapy planning scan. These patients will have a mould room appointment prior the the CT scan. We also use vacuum-bags (for body immobilisation) and also a sarcoma board (for limb treatments), which has been specially designed within the department. Other simpler immobilisation devices include head-rests, knee supports and ankle stocks. <more info>
On Treatment Clinics
Within our department patients are assessed daily by the therapy radiographers for treatment related side effects. In addition, we have dedicated “on-treatment” clinics for patients to be seen during the course of treatment and also to coordinate on-going follow-up post treatment.