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Intensity-modulated Radiotherapy

Volume 551: debated on Tuesday 23 October 2012

13. What assessment his Department has made of the extent to which the cancer radiotherapy innovation fund will increase access to intensity-modulated radiotherapy. (124146)

The £15 million radiotherapy innovation fund is designed to ensure that from April 2013 radiotherapy centres will be ready to deliver intensity-modulated radiotherapy to all patients who need it. We are working with professional bodies and Cancer Research UK to develop a programme, including support visits, training and criteria for allocating the fund.

I thank the Minister for that answer and she will know that the UK’s first clinical trials of IMRT were carried out at Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge, funded by the Breast Cancer Campaign, and showed reduced side effects and improved cosmetic outcomes. How many breast cancer patients a year does she think could benefit from IMRT and how will she ensure that they all manage to do so?

We know that 9% of all radical radiotherapy treatment should be delivered using forward-planned IMRT and that that should be used for and will benefit breast cancer patients. A survey of radiotherapy centres was carried out in preparation for the launch of the new fund that showed that 26% of radical activity was being delivered using forward-planned IMRT. The hon. Gentleman might say that that does not exactly answer his question and I am more than happy to make further inquiries and, if necessary, to write to him in full detail.

That is important. I have recognised in the short time in which I have been in my post that there is often disparity across the country and in certain areas, frankly, the service is not as good as that in others. One of our aims is to ensure that regardless of where someone lives they will get good treatment from the NHS.