A CORK hospital has received an award for becoming a tattoo-less department through the use of state-of-the-art surface guidance technology.
The Department of Radiation Oncology in Cork University Hospital (CUH) recently received an award for eliminating the need for permanent tattoos in radiotherapy.
The award was presented to the department by Vision RT at the CUH Radiation Therapy Study Day on April 29.
The initiative was funded by Aid Cancer Treatment Charity (ACT) which raised just under €1m to purchase new technology that was developed and installed at the Radiation Oncology Centre of CUH by Vision RT. Surface guidance uses 3D cameras and computer vision to ensure patients having radiotherapy are in the intended treatment position.
Representatives from ACT attended the presentation of the award in recognition of their vital support for ‘tattooless’ radiotherapy without which progress would not have been possible.
CUH radiation therapy services manager Claire Keating said they are ‘delighted’ to offer tattoo-less radiotherapy to most patients.
“Permanent tattoos used in radiotherapy treatment can have a significant psychological impact on patients,” she said.
“They are a long-lasting reminder of the cancer diagnosis and treatment, a time which patients want to move on from.
“We are delighted here at Cork University Hospital to offer tattoo-less radiotherapy for the vast majority of our patients.”
One of the many advantages of surface guidance technology is the elimination of the need for permanent skin markings, or tattoos, for radiotherapy. Traditionally, tattoos have been required for the accurate and reproducible daily delivery of radiotherapy.
Eliminating this requirement has a major benefit for patients.
Another advantage of the groundbreaking technology is the ability to continuously monitor, with millimetre accuracy, the patient’s position while the radiotherapy is being delivered. This means a correction can be made if the patient moves even a millimetre during the treatment, thus increasing the accuracy of the radiotherapy.
This precision means that advanced techniques will become available for patients at Cork University Hospital and patients will no longer have to travel to Dublin for these treatments.
This surface-guided technology, called Align RT, is also used for deep inspiration breath hold (DIBH) radiotherapy, where the patient holds their breath during treatment.
This allows radiation to be delivered while limiting radiation exposure to the heart and lungs, a technique predominantly used for left-sided breast cancer treatment.