A revolutionary mobile device to deliver radiotherapy more precisely during surgery, without causing damage to surrounding tissue and organs, is to be used for the first time at a UK hospital.
The Mobetron is the first portable system able to administer the treatment in this way - known as intraoperative radiotherapy (IORT) - and will start being used in operating theatres at Southampton General Hospital this month.
IORT is an intensive form of targeted radiation given at the time of surgery for a wide variety of advanced cancers that are difficult to remove and treat.
Using Mobetron technology, the radiation is given by high energy electron beams delivered with precision to a very specific location inside the body immediately after a cancer has been removed.
This enables surgeons and oncology specialists to deliver much higher doses of the anti-cancer treatment to areas at a high risk of recurrence without causing damage to surrounding healthy tissue and organs seen with conventional external beam radiotherapy.
Using conventional radiotherapy, which involves setting up a machine manually to target the area of a tumour rather than the cancer alone, doctors have to limit doses to protect surrounding structures.
The system, tested by experts at the National Physical Laboratory in London before being transported to Southampton, will be used initially to treat patients with pancreatic, neuroendocrine, colorectal and bladder tumours.
The introduction of the Mobetron at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust has been funded by patient support group and charity PLANETS, which is part of Southampton Hospital Charity and fundraises for pancreatic, liver and neuroendocrine tumour services.
Surgeon Neil Pearce said: "This is a landmark moment for the treatment of advanced cancer in Southampton and across the UK."
Professor Peter Johnson, a consultant oncologist at UHS and head of cancer research in Southampton, said: "The practice of radiation oncology is undergoing a revolution, with new technology changing the way that cancer can be treated.
"This development is at the cutting edge of modern radiation oncology and it will be exciting to see how it can be used to help patients in Southampton."