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The RD&E has invested in ‘virtual patient’ technology thanks to a generous donation from cancer charity FORCE


Oncology Presentation

Steve Blake, Head if RD&E Radiotherapy Physics

with FORCE chief executive Meriel Fishwick and the Delta 4 equipment.


The Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust’s Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy (IMRT) programme is gathering pace thanks to a generous donation from the FORCE Cancer Charity.


IMRT allows tighter shaping of the radiation dose to the full extent of the tumour so healthy tissue can be spared. Current techniques cannot always achieve this degree of shaping, which means areas of healthy tissue close to the tumour, for example the salivary glands with head and neck cancer, can receive doses of radiation that would cause unpleasant side effects. In some cases IMRT also allows clinicians to increase the dose, in the hope that this may provide a better outcome.


IMRT is an advanced technique which requires the highest level of precision in delivering the dose. In order to check this, the Trust, in partnership with FORCE, has purchased a piece of equipment known as Delta 4 from Oncology Systems Limited. This acts as a ‘virtual patient’ for the radiation treatment. The Delta 4 is placed on the Linear Accelerator treatment couch, exactly where the patient would lie. The dose of radiation that the patient will receive is then delivered to the Delta 4 which produces a very accurate map of the strength of the radiation in each area.  This enables a detailed check of the dose distribution before treatment takes place.

FORCE Cancer Charity kindly donated the £70,000 the Trust needed to purchase the Delta 4 following a very generous bequest from a former patient.


Steve Blake, Head of Radiotherapy Physics and  Geraldine Jenner, Radiotherapy Services Manager said:   ‘The complexity of this kind of radiotherapy requires very time consuming and detailed preparation  and checking which can take many hours. Delta 4 will not only save a lot of time but also ensure that the maximum number of patients benefit.  Physics and Oncology have been working hard to enable this to happen and the help from FORCE has been invaluable.’


Meriel Fishwick, chief executive of FORCE Cancer Charity is delighted that so many cancer patients will benefit from Delta 4.  ‘FORCE has a long history of working with the Oncology Centre at RD&E to improve treatment for local cancer patients.  We have been able to fund Delta 4 thanks to a recent legacy and it’s really good to know these monies are making a significant contribution.’  

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