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September 28, 2020

Doctors call for task force to assess COVID-19 effect on health care workers

The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE) is calling for the UK Government to set up a task force to assess the short-, medium- and long-term health and well-being effect of COVID-19 on health care workers. The remit of the task force should include investigating whether adequate resources - especially time, staff and equipment - are available to maintain service activity, whether related to COVID-19 or not, taking into account the significant clinical demands of infection control, increased patient demand and different working practices during the pandemic, the RCPE said.

September 28, 2020

Helping cancer treatment centres adapt to the era of COVID-19 and beyond

Cancer care during the COVID-19 crisis has been “de-prioritised, delayed,” and in some places, discontinued, especially in the early days of the pandemic. Cancer patients “are facing disruption for all but the most urgent procedures,” a May article in The Lancet said. At Varian, we look for new ways to increase access to quality care for cancer patients. We offer cancer treatment technology and services around the world. We innovate tools to facilitate collaboration and knowledge sharing, and put artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation to work in the clinic. While these technologies and services were designed to improve access to care, they have proven to be very useful during this pandemic. Let me offer a few examples.

September 28, 2020

CERN accelerator technology to underpin FLASH radiotherapy facility

How can technology developed at CERN for high-energy physics bring state-of-the-art radiotherapy to a hospital just along the lakeside in Lausanne? The technologies in question include high-performance electron accelerator components and simulation tools originally designed for CERN’s Compact Linear Collider (CLIC). Now, a collaboration between CERN and Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) plans to use these to create a system for clinical delivery of FLASH radiotherapy. FLASH radiotherapy, which involves delivering therapeutic radiation at ultrahigh dose rates of 40 Gy/s and above, vastly decreases normal tissue toxicity while maintaining anti-tumour activity. Of particular note, FLASH should enable dose escalation, potentially offering a new option for cancers that are resistant to treatment. 

September 28, 2020

Adjuvant radiotherapy in node positive prostate cancer patients: a debate still on. When, for whom?

This retrospective study of 187 patients evaluated the impact of adjuvant radiotherapy (aRT) in patients with prostate cancer (PCa) found to have pathological positive lymph nodes (pN1s) after radical prostatectomy (RP) and extended pelvic lymph node dissection (ePLND) with regard to distant recurrence-free survival (RFS), according to both main tumour pathological characteristics and number of positive lymph nodes. At 5 years, local RFS, distant RFS, biochemical RFS and overall survival (OS) were 68%, 71%, 56% and 94%, respectively. Our data confirmed the encouraging outcomes of patients with pN1 PCa treated with adjuvant treatments and the key role represented by the number of pN1s in predicting biochemical RFS, clinical RFS and distant RFS.

September 28, 2020

Stereotactic Radiotherapy for Pancreatic Cancer: A Single-Institution Experience

Despite treatment advances, the prognosis of locally advanced pancreatic cancer is poor. Treatment remains varied and includes systemic and radiotherapy (RT). Stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT), highly conformal high-dose RT per fraction, is an emerging treatment option. In this single institution retrospective review of 41 patients, the six-month and one-year rates of local progression-free survival, distant metastasis-free survival, and overall survival were 62% and 55%, 44% and 32%, and 70% and 49%, respectively. 

September 28, 2020

Full automation of spinal stereotactic radiosurgery and stereotactic body radiation therapy treatment planning using Varian Eclipse scripting

The purpose of this feasibility study is to develop a fully automated procedure capable of generating treatment plans with multiple fractionation schemes to improve speed, robustness, and standardization of plan quality. A fully automated script was implemented for spinal stereotactic radiosurgery/stereotactic body radiation therapy (SRS/SBRT) plan generation using Eclipse v15.6 API. The script interface allows multiple dose/fractionation plan requests, planning target volume (PTV) expansions, as well as information regarding distance/overlap between spinal cord and targets to drive decision‐making. 

September 27, 2020

Radiotherapy in the era of COVID-19

We strongly believe that the risks and benefits of treating oncologic patients during this COVID-19 global pandemic must be carefully evaluated by the radiation oncologist and discussed both in a multidisciplinary setting and with the patients themselves, in order to facilitate shared decision-making which is of key importance in a time of emergency.

September 27, 2020

Welsh Minister Visits Proton Beam Therapy Centre In Newport

UK Government in Wales Minister and MP for Monmouth, David TC Davies, visited the Rutherford Cancer Centre South Wales in Newport this week to show support and highlight the contribution independent cancer centres can make in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Rutherford Cancer Centre South Wales was the first cancer facility to bring proton beam therapy to the UK in 2018 and now offers the pioneering treatment to adult NHS Wales patients, making Welsh patients the first to be offered proton beam therapy on the NHS in the UK. The centre also remained open throughout the pandemic and assisted local NHS Trusts by treating cancer patients who would have otherwise had their treatments delayed or cancelled by the effects of the lockdown. 

September 27, 2020

West Cumberland's vital breast clinic decision has been made

Following almost seven months of fearing for the future of a vital hospital service, a decision has been made. After the one-stop breast clinic was moved from West Cumberland Hospital to Carlisle's Cumberland Infirmary at the start of the pandemic, members of the We Need West Cumberland Hospital (WNWCH) group have repeatedly raised concerns over the clinic's permanent base. But following consultations, the trust has shared news that the lifesaving breast clinic will return to West Cumberland Hospital before the end of the year.

September 27, 2020

Virtual Reality-Based Education for Patients Undergoing Radiation Therapy

We built a virtual reality (VR) application that runs on a commercially available standalone VR headset that allows patients to view a virtual simulation of themselves receiving radiotherapy. In our single-institution, single-arm prospective patient study, we found that the majority of patients reported that the personalized VR experience was educational and can reduce anxiety. VR technology has potential to be a powerful adjunctive educational tool for cancer patients about to undergo radiotherapy.

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