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Cancer survival rates given a boost with cutting-edge treatment at Barts

PUBLISHED: 10:00 22 May 2010 | UPDATED: 16:04 05 October 2010

A patient receives radiotherapy in a RapidArc linear accelerator

A patient receives radiotherapy in a RapidArc linear accelerator

ONE in three people will develop cancer during their lifetime and a quarter is expected to die from the disease. But doctors are hoping to boost survival rates through their revolutionary radiotherapy technology at the new £200m Barts Cancer Centre. T

ONE in three people will develop cancer during their lifetime and a quarter is expected to die from the disease.

But doctors are hoping to boost survival rates through their revolutionary radiotherapy technology at the new £200m Barts Cancer Centre.

The centre is home to five RapidArc linear accelerators that were brought over from America and can deliver radiotherapy eight times faster than the old machines.

They are also able to pinpoint the radiotherapy dose around the exact shape of the tumour to avoid any damage to the surrounding tissue.

At the moment the machines are only used for head, face and neck tumours with around four patients a week undergoing 35 days of intense treatment.

Amen Sibtain, Consultant Clinical Oncologist, says there are "huge" benefits for patients for their "quality of life".

One man that would agree is Ian Gray who was diagnosed with an aggressive mouth tumour five years ago.

The actor and director was one of the first patients at Barts to benefit from the technology.

The machines have since been updated but the specialist treatment was the only hope in helping the 45-year-old who had an 18 per cent chance of survival.

Mr Gray had two operations to remove the tumour known as Squamous Cell Carcinoma which was behind his cheek bone.

He then had a course of radiotherapy to get rid of any remnants of the disease.

He said: "I was initially frightened but my cancer was so severe that I had no choice but to have the treatment or die.

"I really believe I would not have had better treatment if I had gone private and paid the earth for it.

"Every day I wake up and feel so grateful to be alive.

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