BHRUT first in the UK to introduce new cancer treatment using AI to better target radiotherapy

Stephen McTaggart was the first person to try out BHRUT's new Ethos therapy which targets tumours mo

Stephen McTaggart was the first person to try out BHRUT's new Ethos therapy which targets tumours more precisely using AI. Picture: BHRUT - Credit: Archant

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust is the first in the UK to use a new cancer treatment which uses artificial intelligence to personalise care for patients.

BHRUT upgraded one if its Varian radiotherapy machines, making it the first in the country to offer Ethos therapy.

The new therapy uses AI to personalise patients’ radiation treatments more precisely based on their anatomy on the day.

It can tailor the patient’s changing needs and target the tumour’s shape and position on a daily basis.

Siobhan Graham, head of radiotherapy, explained: “Cancer patients receiving radiotherapy will have a course of treatments, and on different days their internal anatomy will not be exactly the same; bladder size for example can change depending on how full it is.

“What this upgrade has allowed us to do is use AI to adapt to our patients, instead of asking our patients to adapt to our treatments.

“It also aims to reduce side effects even further than our normal treatments already do. This will make a huge improvement to our patients’ experience and their overall health outcomes and builds on our mission to provide great care to every patient, every day.”

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The upgrade went live earlier this month treating three prostate cancer patients on its first day in action.

Grandfather Stephen McTaggart, of Upminster, whose radiotherapy was originally scheduled for February but was pushed back due to the pandemic, was the first patient.

The trust has the worst track record for cancer waits across London with only 45 per cent of patients being treated within 62 days in June.

Stephen said he felt lucky to be the first patient to try out the new service, particularly as it less invasive.

Patients who use Ethos therapy have their radiation targeted to the exact location of a tumour.

A new treatment plan is then optimised using that day’s CT image.

Radiotherapy patients who use the service will no longer have to undergo certain procedures to prepare for treatment, including more invasive procedures like gold seed markers for prostate cancer patients, which are inserted into the body to show the tumour’s location.