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Queensland first: New treatment technology for breast cancer patients

New treatment technology eliminates need for permanent clinical tattoos

Brisbane, Australia – For the first time in Queensland, breast cancer patients will no longer require permanent tattoo markers during radiation therapy treatment, with the introduction of new technology, AlignRT. The technology is now available at GenesisCare’s cancer treatment centre in Chermside, Brisbane.

AlignRT is a unique radiation therapy system which tracks a patient’s positioning before and during their therapy, to assist with set up and treatment accuracy. Prior to the new technology, breast cancer patients received permanent tattoo marks through traditional radiation therapy to ensure treatment was delivered to a precise location.

The technology uses 3D stereoscopic camera units and surface tracking to detect slight movements, automatically pausing treatment before and during treatment, to deliver highly targeted treatment.

Dr Nicola Lowrey, a Radiation Oncologist at GenesisCare who specialises in breast cancer treatment, said: “AlignRT is a world-class technology which will ease the imposition and burden of radiation therapy by providing ‘tattoo free’ treatment.

“AlignRT is the first system of its kind installed in Queensland, providing breast cancer patients with a new option for precision radiation therapy. Rather than using tattoos for daily treatment set-up, the optical guidance allows for the use of thousands of reference points, without any increase in radiation dose,” said Dr Lowrey.

Dr Marie Burke, Medical Director for GenesisCare Oncology Queensland, said: “For some patients, this will eliminate the added emotional impact of having permanent ink marks, which can be an unwanted reminder of their cancer diagnosis or treatment.

“At GenesisCare we are committed to delivering the highest quality of breast cancer care for our patients which is why we decided to invest in this world-class technology to deliver tattoo-free radiation therapy.

“Many of the women who come to us for radiation therapy have already undergone surgery and chemotherapy so by the time they reach us they are physically and emotionally exhausted. We want to help alleviate any anxiety they may have around permanent tattoos so they can focus entirely on their treatment and getting back to their loved ones,” said Dr Burke.

According to Cancer Council Queensland, breast cancer is the most common cancer in Queensland women, with 3,510 new cases diagnosed every year. Between 2004 and 2016, breast cancer incidence rates in Queensland have significantly increased by 0.8 per cent per year.1

For approximately 50 per cent of all cancer patients, radiotherapy plays an important role in the treatment pathway, used with curative intent and in pain and symptom management.


1 Breast Cancer Fact Sheet, Cancer Council Queensland, 2016, https://cancerqld.blob.core.windows.net/site/content/uploads/2019/09/FACTS-Breast-Cancer-NOTRACK.pdf