A new device introduced to the UK can destroy tumours in the brain or the spine without the need for invasive surgery.
The Novalis Tx radiosurgery system, developed by Varian Medical Systems and Brainlab, has been installed in the Christie at Salford Royal Hospital: a new radiotherapy centre for the North West.
The launch of this therapy coincides with the release of new guidelines from the NHS National Cancer Action Team stating that radiosurgery should be available to all suitable cancer patients in England.
Radiosurgery can treat previously inoperable cancers in a single 20-minute session, using beams of radiation shaped to fit the tumour. The short treatment time means that many patients can attend the clinic as outpatients.
The frameless radiosurgery of the Novalis Tx is more patient-friendly than existing radiosurgery systems that require immobilisation of the head by a ring fastened to the skull.
Malignant primary brain tumours reduce life expectancy more than any other cancer, and are the most significant cause of cancer death among young men and women.
Ms Tina Karabatsou, Consultant Neurosurgeon at the Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, said: “One of the fantastic advantages of the new Novalis Tx treatment is we will be able to treat brain conditions we were previously unable to treat, such as tumours really deep in the brain.
“Equally important is the non-invasive nature of treatment, which means treatment sessions can be performed as an outpatient day-case and with significantly less side effects.”
“The launch of the Novalis Tx system is a huge stride towards modernising cancer care in the UK,” said Helen Bulbeck, Director of charity Brainstrust. “This is a great achievement for brain tumour treatment.”
US company Varian Medical Systems is a leading manufacturer of radiotherapy and radiosurgery systems. German company Brainlab produces software-driven medical technologies to support less-invasive treatment.
By the end of 2011, three UK centres will be using the Novalis Tx.