Medical Tattoos no longer needed for Radiotherapy thanks to new tech at CUH

1 December 2020
By Elaine Murphy

Hospital is the first public centre in Ireland to utilise this type of technology

The Radiation Oncology Department at Cork University Hospital (CUH) has installed new state-of-the-art surface guided technology that will make the patient experience more comfortable with pin-point accuracy, improving therapy delivery and enabling the Centre to implement new advanced radiotherapy techniques. Aid Cancer Treatment Charity raised funds of under one million euro to purchase the new technology that was developed and installed by Vision RT.

CUH is the first public centre in Ireland to utilise this type of technology and it is available for breast cancer treatments. It will be available for other treatments in the coming months.

A significant advantage is the elimination of the need for permanent skin markings, or tattoos, for radiotherapy. Traditionally tattoos have been required for the accurate and reproducible daily delivery of radiotherapy, eliminating this requirement has a major benefit for patients.

Claire Keating, Radiotherapy Services Manager, Cork University Hospital said:

“The whole team has worked hard to bring this service on-line, which has helped to maintain breast radiation service during the pandemic. We are also delighted here at Cork University Hospital to be the first public hospital in Ireland to offer surface-guided, tattoo-less radiotherapy to breast cancer patients and tattoo-less radiotherapy will be available for all patient cohorts over the coming months. By eliminating tattoos, a permanent reminder of cancer, we aim to reduce the adverse physical and psychological impact of treatment for our patients.”

Another advantage of the ground breaking technology is the ability to continuously monitor, with millimetre accuracy, the patient’s position while the radiotherapy is being delivered. This means that a correction can be made if the patient moves during the treatment, therefore increasing the accuracy of the radiotherapy. This precision means that advanced techniques will become available for patients at Cork University Hospital and patients will no longer have to travel for these therapies.

This surface guided technology, called AlignRT, is also used for deep-inspiration breath hold radiotherapy, where the patient holds their breath during treatment. This allows radiation to be delivered while limiting radiation exposure to the heart and lungs, a technique predominantly used for left sided breast cancer treatment.

Over the past 35 years, Aid Cancer Treatment has raised approximately €7 million for Cancer services in Cork University Hospital and is continuing to raise funds to invest in new developments for cancer services provision in the hospital. Aid Cancer Treatment is a completely independent body whose members give their time voluntarily, every cent raised is spent to improve the facilities and services for Cancer Patients in Cork University Hospital.

Staff members from Cork University Hospital and Aid Cancer Treatment with the surface guided technology. Pictured front row Lt to Rt: Claire Harman (Research and Development Clinical Specialist), Pat McCarthy (Aid Cancer Treatment), and Ber Ryan (Aid Cancer Treatment). Second row Lt to Rt: Claire Keating (Radiation Therapy Services Manager), Christopher Walker (Senior Medical Physicist), Carol McGibney (Clinical Lead Radiation Oncologist), Hollie Moffett (Senior Radiation Therapist), and Brenda Murphy (Clinical Specialist Radiation Therapist).

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