World first for cancer treatment at Norfolk hospital

NNUH chief executive Mark Davies, left, and chief operating officer Richard Parker, right, with the Bravos team. Photo: NNUH

NNUH chief executive Mark Davies, left, and chief operating officer Richard Parker, right, with the Bravos team. Photo: NNUH


Patients at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) will be the first in the world to benefit from a new cancer treatment machine.

The Bravos machine. Photo: NNUHThe Bravos machine. Photo: NNUH

The state-of-the-art device, called the Varian Bravos afterloader system for brachytherapy treatments, will be used to treat some gynaecological and prostate cancers with a form of radiotherapy at the hospital’s Colney Centre.

The new system, made by Varian, can potentially reduce the amount of treatments patients need by directly targeting tumours with high dose rate (HDR) radiotherapy.

Bravos replaces a cancer treatment machine that had been used at NNUH since 2003.

Vicki Currie, lead clinical scientist for brachytherapy at NNUH, said standard radiotherapy uses radiation directed at the tumour from outside the body.

The Bravos team. Photo: NNUHThe Bravos team. Photo: NNUH

Brachytherapy places radioactive sources inside or near a tumour to reduce long-term side effects and reduces the risk of damaging healthy tissue.

She added that brachytherapy can result in fewer visits to hospital for some patients.

She said: “We hope it will make a difference to patients in Norfolk and the wider area as the only other centres that offer brachytherapy in the region are in Cambridge and Colchester. They can have this done as a day case and it gives us capacity for more patients to be treated,” she said.

The new machine was only launched on October 20 and is not used at other centres which offer brachytherapy.

Vicki Currie and Katie Copper with the Bravos machine. Photo: NNUHVicki Currie and Katie Copper with the Bravos machine. Photo: NNUH

Katie Cooper, consultant radiographer added: “This gives a much higher dose with less side effects. It is safer, cuts down on treatment times and it frees up space in our theatres.”

Sophie Wetherall, product manager for Varian, said: “The NNUH is the first in the world and the first clinical site to be using Bravos.”

An expansion of brachytherapy treatments, to include prostate cancer at NNUH, was made possible thanks to the generosity of people who supported the targeted radiotherapy appeal – a £600,000 public appeal that funded the creation of a purpose built brachytherapy space within the department at NNUH to provide a multi-purpose room for anaesthesia and brachytherapy treatment with a dedicated recovery area as well as additional equipment needed for these treatments.

Mark Davies, chief executive, said: “I am delighted that NNUH is the first in the world to use this new machine, which reinforces our reputation as a major centre for cancer treatment at the forefront of modern technology.

“I’d like to pay tribute to everyone at the hospital, our supporters and Varian who have made this project a reality.”

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