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NHS Grampian first in Scotland to install new type of radiotherapy treatment machine

Photo shows the Ethos machine plus. From left to right: Radiotherapists Nicola Redgwell, Cat Burnett, Nicola Miller, Gillian McIntosh, radiotherapy physicist Julie Fox, John McLellan and Dr Rafael Moleron. Supplied by NHS Grampian
Photo shows the Ethos machine plus. From left to right: Radiotherapists Nicola Redgwell, Cat Burnett, Nicola Miller, Gillian McIntosh, radiotherapy physicist Julie Fox, John McLellan and Dr Rafael Moleron. Supplied by NHS Grampian

A new type of radiotherapy treatment machine is being installed by NHS Grampian – the first of its kind in Scotland.

The new device called “Ethos” is the first of its type in Scotland and will be the third installed in the UK.

Described as being more “patient friendly”, the machine offers faster radiotherapy treatment that is able to focus on the exact location of tumours. It is also reported to result in fewer side effects for patients.

Head of radiotherapy physics, John McLellan, said radiotherapy is a “vital component” in treating cancer.

He said: “Modern radiotherapy utilises ‘dynamic’ radiation beams, precisely targeted and shaped to deliver a prescribed dose to a “tumour volume”. Treatments are delivered in multiple daily sessions over a number of days or weeks.

Arrival of Ethos will improve treatment success

John McLellan, head of radiotherapy physics is pictured on the right. Supplied by Friends of Anchor.

“However, until very recently, we were unable to alter the treatment to take account of patient weight loss or shrinkage in the tumour.

“The arrival of the Ethos device changes all that. We believe we can now improve treatment success rates, while minimising side effects.”

Roughly 30% to 40% of cancer patients will receive radiotherapy as part of their care.

Having upgraded CT image quality allows Ethos to use AI to find the exact location of a tumour in a patient’s body on every day of their treatment.

This means the radiation is in a much more targeted area, avoids vital organs and  hopefully minimises side effects from treatment.

On the ‘leading edge of radiotherapy treatment’

Dr Rafael Moleron, consultant clinical oncologist, said the device will be used to treat Head and Neck cancer to start with.

“This new equipment can deliver state of the art radiotherapy significantly faster, being more patient friendly,” he said.

“The treatment of Head and Neck cancer is particularly challenging and involves a very fine balance between the probability of cure and treatment side effects.

“The radiotherapy team at NHS Grampian has chosen this as the first cancer type for implementation of adaptive radiotherapy, before expanding the service to other cancer types.

“With the new machine now on site, we are developing detailed clinical procedures and we expect to be one of the first centres in the world to offer on-line adaptive treatment for Head and Neck cancer.”

While the treatment will bring many benefits to patients, radiotherapy manager, Nicola Redgwell, said it also offers more opportunities to therapeutic radiographers in the area.

She said: “The installation of the Ethos machine not only demonstrates our commitment to investing in the best equipment, but also highlights the opportunities available to therapeutic radiographers working in Grampian.

“Whether you are newly graduated or more established, working for us gives you the chance to be on the leading edge of radiotherapy treatment and cancer care.”

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