The treatment of brain cancer in the UK has taken a big step forward after the NHNN took delivery of the country’s newest Gamma Knife® technology.
The installation of the 20 tonne piece of kit took all the precision of a military operation involving six lifts from a 500 tonne crane, a road closure and careful management of radioactive sources.
The Gamma Knife, manufactured by Elekta, will focus primarily on treating patients for brain metastases – tumours that develop in the brain from cancers elsewhere in the body.
Unlike traditional surgery, Gamma Knife procedures do not actually involve the use of a ‘knife’ or scalpel and the skull never has to be opened up. It works by targeting a single dose of radiation precisely on the tumour and this minimises damage to surrounding healthy tissue.
Although the technology cannot cure cancerous tumours in the brain, it can often prolong life and improve the quality of life for patients. In those with dangerous but non-cancerous growths near blood vessels and glands, it can be a life-saver.
The effectiveness of Gamma Knife radiosurgery for brain metastases is accepted across the world and clinicians at the NHNN will be able to add to the evidence when the equipment becomes operational towards the end of 2012.
Neil Kitchen, a consultant neurosurgeon at the NHNN, said: “Traditionally, most UK patients receive surgery or whole brain radiation therapy, which – while they can be effective therapies – are rather invasive and incur some risk of side effects.
“Radiosurgery has proven to be a gentle and effective option to standard treatments for brain metastases which can prolong and improve patients’ quality of life.”
Medical Equipment Solutions Limited are responsible for the capital cost and day to day operation of the centre, in partnership with the NHNN consulting team.
Head of communications
University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Tel: 020 3447 9506 Internal ext 79506