Members enjoyed a number of short informative presentations on radiotherapy, its context in relation to surgery and chemotherapy, and why it is typically delivered over several weeks. They also heard about the radiotherapy journey, from pre-treatment imaging, individualised treatment planning through to treatment verification and delivery.
Macmillan Lead Cancer Nurse Mark Foulkes, gave a brief overview of the Trust’s cancer services and how it fits within the Berkshire West Integrated Care System (ICS), while Claire Blowfield Principal Physicist and Emma Needham Treatment Planning Manager, described the processes involved in producing treatment plans for patients.
Guests also enjoyed a number of practical demonstrations; Colin Baker, Head of Radiotherapy Physics, demonstrated the principles of the clinical linear accelerator on the department’s newest Linac, an Elekta Versa HD. The new Linac has been in operation since September 2018 and provides 4D imaging that allows breathing motion to be verified for thoracic treatment sites, along with high dose-rate modes for faster treatments.
An identical Linac will soon be available at our Bracknell site where the construction of a new radiotherapy bunker is underway, ready for the arrival of a new Linac in July 2019.
Vicky Hammond-Turner Radiotherapy Advanced Practitioner and Ricky Straw Therapeutic Radiographer, talked about the radiotherapy treatment experience for patients, and showed how the new surface-guided radiotherapy (SGRT) system works. The Royal Berkshire is one of just two NHS Trusts in the UK to have the system installed on the Elekta Linac, and thanks to charitable donations SGRT will shortly be available on two of our machines.
The event concluded with a lively question and answer session which covered a wide range of interests from treatment experiences and options, through to how electron energy is transformed into x-ray photons in a linear accelerator - the physicist’s favourite!