Radiotherapy accurately shaped to the target area

Volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) is an advanced radiotherapy technique that uses arcs of radiation, rather than individual beams used in other types of radiotherapy. As the machine (called a linear accelerator or linac) moves, it automatically changes the beam shape and treatment dose. This makes the treatment much more targeted and accurate than single beam-based radiotherapy.

At GenesisCare, we provide VMAT radiotherapy as standard for a wide range of cancer types at each of our centres. 

Your consultant will assess your condition and precise diagnosis to decide if this treatment is right for you. Our multidisciplinary team of specialists, including oncologists, radiographers and physicists, will then plan and manage your treatment. While in our care, you’ll have the support of our compassionate nursing staff, who are on call to answer any of your queries. 

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If you’d like more information about our VMAT radiotherapy service, just get in touch.

What is VMAT radiotherapy?

VMAT provides very accurate radiation delivery and maximises the dose targeted at the tumour while minimising the overall dose to surrounding healthy tissue. This greatly reduces the risk of side effects that are usually seen with conventional radiotherapy. Compared to conventional radiotherapy, treatment sessions with VMAT are much shorter and can last between just two to four minutes.

VMAT can treat tumours such as breast, prostate and skin, which are close to critical organs because it helps protect them from radiation damage.  

All our centres also offer surface-guided radiotherapy (SGRT). SGRT uses 3D camera technology which enables us to accurately monitor and track your position during treatment to make sure the radiation is precisely targeted. It’s highly accurate, meaning if you move out of position, we can pause the treatment. When combined with VMAT, SGRT helps improve the overall accuracy and the speed and comfort of treatment. 

SGRT is not widely available elsewhere in the UK. Find out more about surface-guided radiotherapy here

What happens during VMAT radiotherapy?

Here is an outline of what to expect after your initial consultation and before, during and after your VMAT radiotherapy. This information is about VMAT radiotherapy for internal tumours, such as breast or prostate cancer. You can find out more information about VMAT for skin cancer here.

Before your first appointment, your care team will call you to explain any preparation instructions in advance of your appointments and answer any questions. 

VMAT radiotherapy for advanced disease

VMAT is also ideally suited to treat advanced cancers by helping to slow their growth and spread and relieve symptoms, such as pain. 

Unlike many other providers, we’re able to offer you access to advanced radiotherapy treatments straightaway. Our approach to care enables us to plan your VMAT treatment in hours and start within days. 

VMAT for skin cancerisation

We’re the first provider in the UK to offer VMAT radiotherapy as an alternative treatment option for patients with extensive skin field cancerisation – a condition where there are areas of pre-cancerous skin tissue containing abnormal cells. 

This modern therapy is exclusively available at our GenesisCare Centre for Radiotherapy at Cromwell Hospital in London and can be used to safely treat the skin surface without treating the underlying healthy tissue. 

Find out more about VMAT radiotherapy for extensive skin field cancerisation.

Side effects of VMAT

All treatments carry the risk of some side effects. However, you can expect fewer side effects with VMAT radiotherapy than conventional radiotherapy because its greater accuracy means that the risk of damage to healthy tissues is lower. 

During your treatment, your care team will be available to provide more advice about side effects and inform you of the best ways to deal with them. It’s also important that you attend your follow-up appointments, so we can identify and treat any problems as soon as possible. 

The side effects you may experience will depend on the location of your cancer. Below we’ve listed some general short-term side effects of VMAT radiotherapy, but your doctor will explain any others that are specific to the location of your cancer. 

  • Skin irritation and hair loss in the treatment area 
  • Soreness and swelling in the treatment area 
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Feeling tired and fatigued 

Although side effects can occasionally be severe, they’re usually very mild and typically resolve within three to four weeks.

Frequently asked questions

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