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Archived HCA Press Releases

Harley Street Clinic to get revolutionary CyberKnife cancer robot - the first in Britain

11 January 2007

London's Harley Street Clinic, one of the UK's foremost centres for cancer medicine, is to buy the revolutionary Cyberknife cancer treatment machine - the first one of it kind in Britain.

The Cyberknife is effectively a compact linear accelerator mounted on the so- called futuristic ‘Picasso' robot and can treat tumours more accurately than before.

The Harley Street Clinic, one of HCA International's six acute hospitals in the Capital, is teaming up with London's leading cancer experts to create a new world class treatment centre in the heart of London's medical district.

The machine is part of a £15 million development programme for the Harley Street Clinic complex and will be based in Harley Street at the world renowned Cancer Centre.  The Cyberknife works in conjunction with CT cancer mapping technology and calculates how much radiotherapy a tumour needs to destroy all cancer cells without harming surrounding tissue.

Having mapped the tumour in 3D, a patient can lie on a bed with the robotic accelerator delivering radiotherapy doses from many directions all around the body.   A separate camera monitors the effectiveness of the operation and works with the robotic arm so that the arm moves with the movement of the patient's breathing - ensuring an accuracy of delivery never achieved before.

Cyberknife can treat tumours that were previously very difficult and sometimes dangerous, to treat with direct radiotherapy - such as cancer of the spine.  By targeting the tumour from all around the body and from many different angles, the correct dose can be delivered without damaging the spinal chord.

Neil Buckley, Chief Executive of The Harley Street Clinic and Director of HCA's cancer services, says the Cyberknife - coupled with a range of other state of the art technology being installed - will create Europe's leading cancer treatment facility.

"Cyberknife is the most significant technological advance in radiotherapy since the linear accelerator," he said.  "This will have many benefits for patients and it is a major boost for London as an international centre for medical excellence." 

The Clinical Director of the new Cyberknife Centre is oncologist Dr Nick Plowman who said the new machine gives cancer specialists new options for treating difficult tumours. "The linking of several technologies from CT and PET scanning with an accelerator head that can move with the patient's every breath, means tumours can be targeted with greater accuracy than was previously possible. This machine, has shown remarkable results over its years of use in the US and elsewhere," He said.

"Patients will be able to see their oncologists at our network of hospitals all over London and will come here for radiotherapy from Cyberknife.  So we are forming a London wide team of cancer specialists able to bring a new level of treatment for patients from London and the Home Counties," said Dr Plowman.

The Harley Street Clinic is in discussion with English Heritage and Westminster City Council about the positioning of the Cyberknife in a specially constructed basement under listed buildings in Harley Street.  It is hoped the machine will be operational by the second or third quarter of next year.

The Hospital already has a Gamma Knife, another radio therapy machine used specifically for cancers of the brain.  This is a joint venture with St Bartholomew's and The Royal London Hospital.  Discussions are underway to make the facilities in Harley Street available for NHS patients from other trusts.

In addition the Harley Street Clinic will shortly take delivery of two new linear accelerators a PET scanner and a 64 slice state of the art CT scanner - the fastest available on the market today.



Note to editors:

The Cyberknife uses the same type of robots at those seen in Citroen's ‘Picasso' car adverts carrying out complex painting of cars on TV.

The Harley Street Cancer Centre (Part of the Harley Street Clinic) is the centre of the HCA Hospitals cancer service and is based at 81 Harley Street with a Haematology centre on the 15th Floor of the University College Hospital Building in Euston Road - a joint venture with UCLH.

Apart from the Harley Street Clinic, HCA owns The Wellington Hospital, The London Bridge Hospital, The Portland Hospital, The Lister Hospital and the Princess Grace Hospital and three diagnostic and treatment centres around the Capital.  The Wellington Hospital in North London, The Princess Grace Hospital in Nottingham Place, just off the Marylebone Road, and the London Bridge Hospital on the banks of the Thames overlooking the City, will be the main linked cancer hospitals sharing the Cyberknife facility with the Harley Street Clinic.

Dr Nick Plowman is one of the UK's leading clinical oncologists.  He is Senior Clinical Oncologist at St Bartholomew's Hospital and has a special interest in advances in radio-therapeutic treatments for cancer.

For further information please contact:

Neil Huband on 07808 298989 or 020 7436 6372 or Helen Jamieson on 020 7935 7700.

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