The Cutting Edge Appeal - Supporting Advanced Radiotherapy Research

The Cutting Edge Appeal is an ambitious programme of radiotherapy related research activity within Velindre and Cardiff, building on our established track record for the delivery of the highest quality care, research excellence and clinical leadership.

The ultimate goal for the Cutting Edge Appeal is to provide the funds that will allow us to establish a Velindre Radiotherapy Research Institute which will pull together all of the different radiotherapy related research activities under a single leadership group. This will provide an infrastructure to support clinical research into cutting edge radiation treatments and an identity providing a single source of access to external research collaborators and partners.

The four research areas will be: to develop and lead national radiotherapy trials, radiotherapy trials quality assurance, radiation treatment modelling and laboratory-based research.

“We will need funding for dedicated clinicians research time, trials staff, research staff and linear accelerator time (the treatment machines).

This is an incredibly exciting proposal and we believe we will be in a fantastic position to be at the forefront of radiotherapy research and deliver the highest quality of care for the next few decades.

Radiotherapy is a vital part of the curative treatment for up to 50% of patients who are diagnosed with cancer and can relieve pain and suffering associated with most cancers. It is used as the main curative treatment for a number of cancers including prostate cancer, head and neck cancer, lung cancer and cervical cancer and is also used as an adjunct to surgery for many other cancers including breast cancer.

Velindre Cancer Centre manages an award winning programme of research into a wide variety of cancers and has a long and successful history of innovative research and developments in radiotherapy. However, there is still much work to be done and this work requires your support. The Cutting Edge Appeal will help ensure that Velindre is recognised as a ground breaking radiotherapy research centre in the future and can continue to deliver the very highest quality radiotherapy for the people of Wales.”

Dr Mererid Evans - Consultant and Cutting Edge Research Co-Lead, Velindre

The Advanced Radiotherapy Clinical Research Fellows will:

1. Lead the development of new radiotherapy techniques at Velindre that are designed to improve the accuracy of radiation delivery. Improving the accuracy of treatment can allow us to increase the dose of radiation delivered to the cancer and this may increase the likelihood of cure. It can also allowus to reduce the dose of radiation given to surrounding normal tissues and this may reduce the often devastating side-effects associated with radiotherapy. Techniques that improve accuracy include IMRT (Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy), VMAT (VoluMetric Arc Therapy) and IGRT (Image Guided Radiotherapy).

2. Develop new schedules for delivering radiotherapy. There is emerging evidence that some cancers may be equally well treated with alternative schedules which use larger doses of radiation given over a shorter time period. This has the
advantage of shortening the treatment time for the patient, easing the burden on our radiotherapy machines and for some cancers it may actually improve cure rates. Stereotactic Body RadioTherapy (SBRT) is the use of extremely high doses in very
few treatments using highly targeted radiotherapy.

3. Lead Velindre’s research programme in Advanced Radiotherapy Technology. The historic strength in clinical trials at Velindre will be expanded to develop local radiotherapy trials. The Clinical Research Fellow will also support Velindre’s present role in the forefront of National and International trials of new radiotherapy techniques so that the treatment we offer our patients matches the best in the rest of the world.

Dr John Staffurth - Reader and Co-Lead Cutting Edge Co-Lead, Velindre

Progress so far:

“In our first two years we have appointed two exceptional Fellows. These Clinical Researchers have supported the introduction of cutting edge radiotherapy techniques such as intensity modulated and image guided radiotherapy to Velindre. They have also overseen an assurance programme for UK National Multi-Centre Trials. Also we have funded the development of the introduction of stereotactic radiotherapy.

On the back of this Welsh Government committed £4.6m funding for a state of the art stereotactic radiotherapy machine. This is fantastic for staff, giving research leads access to cutting edge equipment for trials, fantastic for patients as they have access to precision radiotherapy previously only available in England and fantastic for Velindre, supporting our aspiration to be a radiotherapy centre of excellence.

We have done really well so far but with more support and a well described development strategy, we really can be a leading centre of radiotherapy, not just in the UK, but in the World.”

Dr Tom Crosby - Clinical Director, Velindre Cancer Centre