CUH makes history becoming first public hospital in Ireland to offer revolutionary radiation therapy for patients with liver tumours

Cork University Hospital (CUH) has become the first public hospital in Ireland to begin offering Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) to patients with liver tumours. This game-changing radiation therapy may be used to treat patients with medically inoperable primary and secondary liver cancers – completely transforming the treatment options currently available. 


Leading the quest to offer this treatment to patients in CUH are Professor Aisling Barry, Chair of Radiation Oncology at UCC and Consultant Radiation Oncologist, CUH and Dr Sean O’ Cathail, Consultant Radiation Oncologist, CUH. Speaking about the launch of this treatment Professor Barry said, “We are thrilled to finally be able to offer this life-changing treatment to patients right here in CUH. SBRT allows us to deliver high precision, high dose radiation, limiting damage to surrounding healthy tissue and organs. The delivery of such a specialised treatment requires significant input from our radiation therapy and medical physics colleagues, who have been paramount in developing this service. Liver SBRT now gives us and patients another treatment option and we are proud to be the first public hospital in Ireland to do so.”


Using high beams of energy, SBRT carefully targets tumours, damaging the DNA in their cells to prevent them from growing or multiplying. This technique is painless and non-invasive and offers a relatively non-toxic and short course of radiotherapy for patients. With incidence of cancer expected to continue to rise over the coming years, therapies like SBRT will play a major role in the future of cancer care in Ireland and as it typically requires fewer sessions than more conventional radiotherapy options, it is expected to have a significant cost benefit for patients and the health service as a whole. 


Dr Dearbhaile Collins, Clinical Director of Cancer Services at CUH, said: “We are very proud that CUH is the first public hospital in Ireland to offer liver SBRT to cancer patients. As more people receive cancer diagnoses, it is vital that there is equal access to care and treatment across the health service. Our dedicated radiation oncology team has been working hard to introduce this treatment option and will continue to do so for the many patients who will benefit from it. We look forward to seeing the impact it will have and the real difference it will make for patients and their families.”


Currently, approximately 40% of all patients who are cured of their cancer require some form of radiotherapy, and about two thirds of all cancer patients will receive radiotherapy at some point, underlining the vital role this type of treatment plays in cancer care. The provision of SBRT at CUH offers another life-changing option for so many patients facing a devastating cancer diagnosis with more than 42,000 people receiving a diagnosis in Ireland each year. 


Patients receiving SBRT at CUH will do so at the state-of-the-art Glandore Centre which opened its doors in 2019 and sees approximately 2,000 patients each year. The centre already offers Surface Guided Radiation Treatment (SGRT), another world-class radiotherapy treatment option which speeds up and improves the accuracy of treatment and provides a much more comfortable experience for patients. CUH was the first tattooless radiotherapy centre in the country thanks to this SGRT system, which was generously donated by Aid Cancer Research (ACT).


Speaking about this newest addition to the Glandore Centre, David Donegan, CEO of Cork University Hospital said, “The Glandore Centre epitomises our future goal for CUH – to be a centre of excellence offering world-class health care to all members of the public right here in Cork. The high calibre of staff we have here in CUH makes this possible. They strive to provide the best possible level of care to patients and are extremely passionate about their specialties. I would like to congratulate Professor Aisling Barry, Dr Sean O’Cathail, Dr Dearbhaile Collins and the wider radiation oncology team on making SBRT a reality for patients here at CUH and look forward to seeing the positive impact this has on cancer care in Cork.” 


Patients are expected to begin receiving liver Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy in CUH this month.

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