A body scanning system that allows doctors to deliver radiotherapy with pinpoint accuracy has been nominated for the Royal Academy of Engineering's MacRobert Award - the so called 'Oscars of engineering,' as Stuart McDill reports.
Less than two years after being diagnosed with and beating cancer Alison Young is counting her blessings Treating cancer in the left breast can damage the heart - but not for her. She was treated using a 3D scanning system that lets patients make sure their heart is out of the way when the radiation is turned on - with deep breathing. SOUNDBITE (English) ALISON YOUNG, FORMER BREAST CANCER PATIENT "So when you're lying in the treatment room waiting for the radiotherapy to start you worry. There's enough going on anyway through your treatment. Enough things that you're totally out of control about and then for the first time you're in control, you're able to control your breath by watching this little bar on a screen right in front of you and you make that happen. You are able to make the bar sit in the right place and that's done by having exactly the right amount of air in your lungs and you just feel reassured that you're doing something that's going to help your treatment in all of that." Vision RT's system draws a super accurate 3D image of the body using a camera and projector system - so doctors know exactly where a tumour is, even if the patient can't stay still. Called 'AlignRT', it overcomes many of the former difficulties of treating cancer with radiotherapy. SOUNDBITE (English) DR NORMAN SMITH, VISION RT CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER "We are trying to target tumours in some cases to within a millimetre and for a patient to come into hospital one day, lay them down and have them go home, come in the next day and reproduce that set up to within that level of accuracy is incredibly challenging. We're not dealing with a block of wood here, we're dealing with a person." Automatically shutting off the radiation if the patient moves too much SOUNDBITE (English) DR NORMAN SMITH, VISION RT CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER "Knowing that they can be comfortable actually reduces the level of motion and makes them much more comfortable, causes less movement and improves the accuracy and quality of the treatment." Young says she is now enjoying a better quality of life post treatment because of the system and wants other women to know about it.