St. Luke’s Radiation Oncology Network increases capacity for cancer treatment with installation of two new radiotherapy machines

 St Luke’s Radiation Oncology Network now one of the biggest radiotherapy treatment centres in Europe

  • New machines provide faster treatment and state of the art specialist radiotherapy services
  • €7.5m investment in line with the National Cancer Control Strategy

 The Minister for Health, Simon Harris has officially opened two new linear accelerators known as Linacs at St. Luke’s Hospital, part of the St Luke’s Radiation Oncology Network (SLRON). The event was also attended by senior management from the Department of Health, SLRON, Dublin Midlands Hospital Group and the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP).

The new Linacs will each treat an average of 30 patients per day, increasing capacity for cancer treatment within SLRON and ultimately survival rates for cancer patients.

Linacs are used to provide treatment for the majority (>90%) of patients undergoing radiotherapy in Ireland.  Linacs target a tumour’s shape and destroy cancer cells while sparing surrounding normal tissue.

The new state-of-the-art machines include features such as:

  • Enhanced patient imaging facilities to ensure accuracy in delivery of treatment;
  • A very fast treatment delivery mode;
  • The capability to deliver treatment in time with the patient’s breathing cycle, improving the accuracy of treatment for moving lung tumours and upper abdominal tumours

These new features allow SLRON to expand the range of services offered to patients and provide the opportunity to further ‘freeze’ the motion of moving tumours, allowing an unprecedented accuracy in treatment.  The additional features also allow SLRON to increase the number of international clinical trials it can participate in, further improving the service provided to patients.

Bringing the total to 14 in Dublin, the two new Linacs make SLRON the most comprehensive radiotherapy facility in Ireland and one of biggest radiotherapy facilities in Europe.  The new €7.5m installment will meet Ireland’s radiotherapy treatment needs for the next three years, based on current estimates of patient numbers.

Speaking at the opening, Minister for Health Simon Harris commented: “I’m delighted to officially open the two new linear accelerators at St. Luke’s Hospital. These new machines will make a real difference for patients. With the number of cases of cancer in Ireland expected to increase by nearly 50% in men and 40% in women by 2025, we need to focus on future-proofing our cancer service and today is an excellent example of this.  When I launched the National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026 in July we set ourselves the ambitious target of being in the top quartile of European countries for cancer survival by the end of the Strategy period. While we continue to make great progress in Ireland in treating cancer and in improving our survival rates, we must also sustain our focus on prevention. It is essential that we increase awareness of cancer and encourage healthier lifestyles to prevent as many cancers as possible”.

Network Director of St Luke’s Radiation Oncology Network, Dr Orla McArdle, said: “I am proud to see SLRON leading the way in radiotherapy in Ireland as well as Europe. The new machines allow us to continue to deliver a world class radiotherapy treatment service for our patients when and where it’s needed, in line with the National Cancer Strategy as set out by the National Cancer Control Programme.

“Our staff have become experts in the delivery of complex radiotherapy treatments not previously available in the Irish health service thanks to state-of-the art equipment such as these machines. Our clinicians and staff recognise that technology and medical treatments for cancer are evolving at a very rapid rate and keeping pace with these developments is key to effectively treating patients and increasing survival rates.”

Dr. Susan O’Reilly, CEO of the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group commented: “As a former National Director of Ireland’s Cancer Control Programme it is particularly encouraging to see the progress that our health services continue to make in tackling cancer and its causes. Much progress has been achieved in recent years in improving outcomes for those with cancer but much also more work also needs to be done in order to reach the ambitious targets set out in our national strategy.

The official opening of these Linacs is testament to the HSE’s commitment to expanding and improving our cancer treatment services. St. Luke’s and its wider network have a very strong track record in cancer treatment, today’s investment will support them in increasing the numbers of patients they treat and in enhancing outcomes for patients”.