Lung cancer patient’s treatment a UK first at The Christie

A grandfather of three has become the UK’s first lung cancer patient to benefit from a state-of-art radiotherapy treatment at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust.

Barry Staniforth, 81, was treated using the Elekta MR-guided linear accelerator (MR-linac) machine that performs real-time MRI scans while X-ray beams target the tumour, making it more accurate and reducing side effects.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic Barry was quickly referred to The Christie in Manchester for treatment. He then received four weeks of radiotherapy to treat his lung cancer using the pioneering Elekta MR-linac machine.

The father of two, who lives with his wife Pam in Sandbach, had only retired aged 79 before the effects of the pandemic hit and he was then diagnosed with lung cancer.

Barry, who worked as a social worker before then working for another 17 years at Marks and Spencer until New Year’s Eve 2019. said: “There is a lot of negativity toward lung cancer but I have to say it is a privilege to be able to be treated at The Christie using such amazing treatment.

“It really lifts your spirits when you have such confidence in the people looking after you. And to be able to help science along the way is an even better feeling.

“The pandemic has been really hard and the added burden of lung cancer obviously affects you but I have been so lucky to be able to have such an amazing medical team looking after me.”

Barry, who is now looking forward to spending time with his grandchildren, added: “The care I received has been marvelous. It seems daft, but I actually looked forward to going in for my treatment. The staff are like friends and I felt so reassured that they were treating me.”

Barry was treated by The Christie’s specialist lung oncology team headed up by Dr Ahmed Salem and Professor Corinne Faivre-Finn, with support from the MR-Linac clinical lead Professor Ananya Choudhury, consultant research radiographer, Dr Cynthia Eccles and physics lead Dr Rob Chuter. The research team are also based at The University of Manchester.

The MR-guided linear accelerator (MR-linac) combines magnetic resonance (MR) scanning and tumour-busting radiotherapy to deliver magnetic resonance radiotherapy in one hi-tech package.

Barry’s treatment was part of the MOMENTUM trial which is a worldwide radiotherapy trial using the MR-linac. It aims to target a wide range of cancers to find out which cancers react best to the treatment before it is hopefully rolled out across the globe. The trial is being overseen by Dr Cynthia Eccles and the MR-linac team at The Christie and supported by the NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre.

Dr Ahmed Salem said: “The MR-linac’s unique ability to provide real time scans of the tumour and healthy tissues while treatment is being delivered provides an opportunity to improve radiotherapy accuracy & reduce side-effects in selected patients.

“We hope that Barry will be the first of many lung cancer patients to have treatment on this innovative machine. It is a privilege to be part of the team that made this possible”.

Being able to more specifically target tumours and avoid more healthy tissue around them means the machine can use target X-rays better. The £5.3M machine was part-funded by donations to The Christie charity.

Since the opening of the UK’s first NHS high energy proton beam centre in 2018 The Christie is now one of only two sites worldwide to offer both these pioneering radiotherapy treatments.

The Christie NHS Foundation Trust was the first specialist trust to be rated as ‘Outstanding’ twice (in 2016 and 2018) by the health regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC). It referred to The Christie as ‘a leader in cancer care’ and ‘a pioneer in developing innovative solutions to cancer care.’ The CQC praised the Trust’s staff which it said ‘go the extra mile to meet the needs of patients and their families’ and that they were ‘exceptionally kind and caring.’ In 2017, the CQC rated The Christie as the best specialist trust in the country, and one of the top three trusts overall in England.


Image Caption: Barry Staniforth and the MR-linac team at The Christie.