Second floor radiotherapy – European first at Guy's Cancer Centre

Wednesday 16 March 2016

Linear accelerator crane to second floor

The first radiotherapy machines in Europe that will treat patients above ground level have been delivered to the new Cancer Centre at Guy’s Hospital.

Six linear accelerators, which weigh more than 10 tonnes each, have been lifted by crane into the Radiotherapy Village on the second floor of the state-of-the-art building, which will open to patients in Autumn 2016.

Radiotherapy treatment is traditionally located in the basement levels of buildings due to the combined weight of the machines and their treatment rooms.

The combined weight of the linear accelerators, the radiation rooms and the necessary shielding is more than 5,000 tonnes.

The new Cancer Centre at Guy’s will weigh more than its neighbour, The Shard.

Commissioning Manager Kate Bradley says: “It was quite a challenge to work out the details of delivering the heavy and complex equipment in through the second floor, as nobody had done it before, but everything went to plan.”

The decision to locate the linear accelerators above ground was made following feedback from patients and cancer survivors who have been at the heart of the development of the new Cancer Centre at Guy’s.

Alison Hookham, from Beckenham, who had five weeks of radiotherapy at St Thomas’ Hospital in 2009 after being diagnosed with breast cancer, recalls: “My treatment was usually in the late afternoon or early evening when it was already dark outside and then I went down to the basement for radiotherapy.

“When I asked if the radiotherapy suite in the new Cancer Centre could be above ground, at first the project team said the reason why radiotherapy is usually in the basement is because the machines are so heavy.

“But they listened to what I said from a patient’s perspective and discovered it was possible. I am delighted that my wish has been granted and that radiotherapy in the new Cancer Centre is above ground.”

Tony Greener, Head of Radiotherapy Physics, says: “The new machines have the ability to rotate around a patient to deliver radiotherapy from nearly any angle, allowing for more precise and targeted treatment.

“They are ‘open machines’, so patients shouldn’t feel trapped or enclosed, and they have a much quieter treatment environment with the ability to play music for the patients to listen to, all making for a more comfortable experience.”

The Cancer Centre has been designed for Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust by architect Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and specialist healthcare architect Stantec. Arup provided integrated design engineering services. Main contractor Laing O’Rourke built the Centre and led the project team. 

Last updated: March 2016

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