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World’s smartest radiotherapy treatment made available to NHS pancreatic cancer patients, without cost

GenesisCare and the University of Oxford’s MRIdian radiotherapy service being offered to NHS pancreatic cancer patients

26 AUGUST 2020: A new, world-class radiotherapy treatment is being made available, without cost, to eligible NHS patients with localised pancreatic cancer by GenesisCare – the UK’s leading cancer care specialist – in a collaboration with the University of Oxford.

The GenesisCare Foundation’s Compassionate Access Programme will provide access to eligible NHS patients from across the country that have medically inoperable, borderline operable, locally advanced and locally recurrent pancreatic cancer and treat them using stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR) with the UK’s first MRIdian machine. The MRIdian uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to provide live, detailed images of the tumour and surrounding tissue, as opposed to the lower quality image obtained during conventional radiotherapy.

The live images mean that as the tumour or surrounding tissue moves, the machine automatically pauses to avoid healthy tissue being damaged. The increased accuracy from these images gives clinicians much greater confidence that they’re hitting the target 100% of the time and has been shown to be particularly advantageous in treating difficult or previously untreatable cancers such as pancreatic, liver and certain lung cancers that haven’t spread, as well as prostate cancer.  These areas are all situated close to major organs which can move, and if damaged, can lead to severe side-effects.

GenesisCare’s centre in Oxford is the first location in the UK to offer this innovative treatment and has already treated its 100th patient since the service was launched last December.

The Compassionate Access Programme is mutually beneficial for patients and providers of cancer care. It will provide first class care to patients, whilst generating patient outcome data that will help embed this technology into UK oncology practice.  Whilst SABR is available for a number of different cancers, it is not currently available on the NHS for pancreatic cancer.  The data generated by patients participating in the programme will act as a pilot phase for University of Oxford clinical trials investigating further refinements of this already proven approach.

Dr James Good, Clinical Oncologist and Clinical Director of SABR at GenesisCare comments: “The MRIdian machine is at the cutting-edge of what is possible in radiotherapy technology. The ability to visualise the tumour more accurately, to follow it while it’s being treated and to adapt the plan every day means we can deliver the best possible outcomes.

“Patients with localised pancreatic cancer have variable access to precision radiotherapy, and during the COVID-19 pandemic have been further disadvantaged by the reduced availability and safety of surgery and chemotherapy.

“The Compassionate Access Programme has two significant purposes. Firstly, to provide patients who otherwise would have limited, or sadly, no options with a really viable treatment option.  Secondly, to help demonstrate the effectiveness of this treatment, with the ambition to make it available for all patients in the future.”

Tim Maughan, Professor of Clinical Oncology at Oxford University adds: “The benefit of this treatment is clear, in that oncologists can see exactly what the tumour and surrounding tissue is doing during treatment, meaning they can adapt and change accordingly.

“We’re very excited to be offering access to patients across the country.  The outcomes of these patients will be carefully monitored so we can build the evidence for this cutting-edge treatment to demonstrate its merit to oncologists across the UK, and lead radiotherapy in the right direction.”

Anthony Commander, a GenesisCare patient who has been treated with the MRIdian shares his experience: “This amazing technology has been successful in treating my otherwise inoperable cancer.

“Importantly for me, I was also able to carry on enjoying an active lifestyle, as the process meant I experienced none of the discomfort that might come with traditional radiotherapy. I was fascinated by the tech during my treatment and would go as far as to say it felt like being in ‘Star Wars’. It gave me a level of control and I experienced no side effects.

“I would encourage anyone eligible, to talk to their consultant about a referral.”

The access for NHS patients has been made possible through charitable funding from the GenesisCare Foundation, the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund and ViewRay, the manufacturers of the MRIdian system.

Those who feel they could benefit from the programme should speak to their consultant at their treating NHS hospital, who can make the referral. Referrals can only be accepted from NHS consultants.

Later this year, GenesisCare will be releasing a paper detailing the full and open experience of the first 50 patients to be treated with this innovative technology in its first five months.  The “MRIdian 50/5” paper will detail a range of case studies, including significant milestones and showing the positive impact of this technology on how we are treating cancer today.  Watch out for more information on GenesisCare’s websiteTwitter and Facebook.