Hospital is UK’s first with cancer treatment

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A YORKSHIRE hospital is the first in the UK to offer a cutting-edge cancer treatment.

The two radiotherapy machines – which are only the second of their kind in the world – are now in operation at St James’s Hospital in Leeds.

Cancer patients in the region are benefitting from reduced treatment times and fewer unpleasant side effects.

The revolutionary machines at the hospital’s Bexley Wing have been installed through a partnership between Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and international medical equipment manufacturer Elekta.

The new Versa HD Radiotherapy Systems are more accurate, targeting radiation to the shape of the tumour and avoiding healthy tissue.

Consultant physicist John Lilley said medics worked with the manufacturers over the past two years to remove a filter which was previously needed on the machines.

“The biggest development is about the speed,” he added.

“Removing that filter has reduced some treatment times – the time the radiotherapy beam is on – by a third. We can treat more patients and it’s better because they are on the couch less.”

The beams are also more accurately targeted to the shape of the tumour, using moveable “fingers” on the machine, making treatment less invasive.

Dr Lilley added: “It’s really great that there’s no technology in the world that’s better than this.

“And it’s great that we can treat our patients with the best technology.”

Ron Earnshaw was the first in the country to undergo radiotherapy using the new system and said he was delighted.

The granddad from Tingley, Leeds, said: “I am hoping it will kill the cancer off.”

Mr Earnshaw was diagnosed with prostate cancer earlier this year and is in the midst of seven weeks of intensive radiotherapy.

The 78-year-old said the treatment was painless and problem-free.