A treatment system called the Novalis® Tx™ has gone into service today in the Christie at Salford Royal. The new technology will benefit 120 brain tumour patients in its first year of use.
We have talked about Novalis® Tx™ before, but to recap, this treatment has the ability to destroy cancerous cells virtually anywhere in the body in a single, 20-minute session, without the need for a single cut of the scalpel. The Novalis Tx, installed in The Christie at Salford Royal, a brand new radiotherapy centre in the North West, treats cancer using a specialised technique called radiosurgery which is especially beneficial for tumours of the brain and spine previously thought untreatable by surgeons.
Painless, non-invasive brain tumour treatment
Using powerful, highly accurate beams of radiation shaped to fit the precise shape of even the most complex tumours, the system is able to treat painlessly without the need for invasive surgery and with fewer side effects. The short treatment times of the system benefit both doctor and patient; and mean more patients can be treated on the system in one day. Patients are often able to attend clinic just as an outpatient, returning to life the same day.
Rachel Good, Christie radiotherapy manager for the new centre, says: “The Novalis TxTM was the perfect choice for the centre because it will help The Christie treat more patients by switching between specialised radiosurgery for tumours in the brain to standard radiotherapy for other cancers of the body. In our first year we are looking to treat 720 patients with the Novalis Tx, 120 of which will be priority brain tumour patients where precise, non-invasive treatment is particularly effective.”
New hope for patients with previously untreatable brain tumours
Ms Tina Karabatsou, Consultant Neurosurgeon at the Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, says: “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 where open surgery is too dangerous. 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 high-quality treatment coincides with new guidelines released by the NHS National Cancer Action Team which state that radiosurgery should be made available to all suitable cancer patients in England. By the end of 2011 three sites will be treating with the Novalis Tx developed by Varian Medical Systems and Brainlab in England and Scotland, improving access to advanced cancer care to patients across the UK.
And our thoughts?
The launch of the Novalis Tx system at the Christie is a huge stride towards modernising cancer care in the UK to levels seen in Europe and the US. This is a great achievement for brain tumour treatment and one that we hope to see the NHS continue to build on in the years to come.
However, the arrival of this new brain tumour treatment is by no means a magic bullet. Of the 120+ brain tumours people can contract, you are most likely to undergo radiosurgery if you have an acoustic neuroma that is less than 3cm across. Radiosurgery can also be used for other brain tumours, including small secondary brain tumours and smal pituitary adenomas. This brain tumour treatment is well suited to people who can’t have surgery due to other medical conditions and Haemangioblastomas that couldn’t be removed, were only partially removed, or came back after surgery.