A man who has been diagnosed with three separate cancers within three years is to become the first patient to be treated at The Christie using a revolutionary radiotherapy machine.
David Hutson, 60, will be treated for prostate cancer using the MR-guided linear accelerator (MR-linac) which is the first machine of its kind to do real-time MRI scans while it targets X-ray radiation beams at tumours, making it more accurate and reducing side effects.
Being able to more specifically target tumours and not healthy tissue around them means the machine can use stronger X-rays. The £5.3M machine was part-funded by donations to The Christie charity.
Since the opening of the UK’s first NHS high energy proton beam centre in December, The Christie is now one of only two sites worldwide to offer both these pioneering radiotherapy treatments.
David, from Warrington, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in September 2018 having already just been diagnosed with skin cancer in 2017 and treated for throat cancer in May 2016.
David, who lives with his wife Valerie and is father to twin sons Matthew and Thomas, both 28, said: “I’m really excited to be the first patient to be treated with the MR-linac at The Christie.
“I’d researched prostate cancer treatment a lot and heard about this machine. So I wrote to Professor Choudhury at The Christie personally to request that I be considered for first treatment.
“I have had a very difficult time with cancer and I believe the treatment will give me a better quality of life and minimal side-effects in comparison to other treatments.
“It’s nice to know that my treatment will help research treatments for cancer patients in the future.”
The MR-guided linear accelerator (MR-linac) combines magnetic resonance (MR) scanning and tumour-busting radiotherapy to deliver magnetic resonance radiotherapy in one hi-tech package.
Dr Cynthia Eccles, Consultant Research Radiographer at The Christie, said: “This is a significant moment in radiotherapy treatment here at The Christie. Around 40 per cent of people being treated for cancer receive a form of radiotherapy and The Christie accounts for around one in 20 NHS treatments in the UK.
“In order to fully unlock the potential of radiotherapy by making it even more precise we need to be at the forefront of technology and this machine allows us to target cancer and avoid healthy tissue while delivering the radiation treatment.”
Professor Ananya Choudhury, Clinical project lead for MR-linac who is overseeing David’s treatment, said: “Prostate cancer responds most effectively to large doses of radiation delivered over a short period of time.
“However, because the prostate lies close to some very sensitive areas, high doses risk damaging the tissue surrounding it and increase the risk of side-effects.
“With the MR-linac we can better target the prostate while avoiding these areas, so we can safely deliver higher doses of radiation.”
The Christie is working with six other leading international cancer centres in North America and Europe as part of the Elekta MR-linac consortium. The MRI technology partner for Elekta is the global electronics giant Philips.
The Christie NHS Foundation Trust has been ranked ‘Outstanding’ twice by the health regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC) which referred to it as ‘exceptional’ and ‘a leader in its field’. It not only commended the Trust for its effectiveness and care, but highlighted its work in shaping the future of cancer care and noted the reach and influence of its clinical research projects. The CQC also rated The Christie the best specialist trust in the country, and one of the top three trusts overall in England.
The Trust has also been ranked as the world’s most technologically advanced cancer centre outside North America.