Humza Yousaf unveils ‘life-changing’ MRI scanner at Beatson Cancer Centre

The Health Secretary said the technology, which provides more precise treatment, would help thousands of cancer patients in Scotland.

26 May 2022

A “trailblazing” MRI scanner unveiled at Glasgow’s Beatson Centre will provide “life-changing” treatment for cancer patients, Scotland’s Health Secretary has said.

Humza Yousaf officially opened the new MRI suite at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre in Glasgow.

The £3.6 million scanner will provide higher definition of MR images which will allow doctors to more accurately target certain tumour types than existing CT technology.

It will enabmle clinicians to fully exploit the capabilities of the latest generation of radiotherapy machines to sculpt the radiation beam with an unprecedented level of precision around the shape of the tumour.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said he hoped the treatment would help prolong the lives of thousands of cancer patients (Medical Illustration, NHSGGC/PA)

Dr David Dodds, chief of medicine, regional services at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC), said the equipment was “trailblazing” as it is the first technology of its kind in Scotland.

Around 20,000 patients will receive the “transformative” treatment on a number of tumour groups over the next 10 years.

The equipment’s purchase was possible thanks to a £1.7 million grant from the NHSGCC Board’s Endowment Fund, which covered 50% of the anticipated costs.

The Beatson charity began fundraising for the rest of the balance in May 2019 and just six months later donors had raised £1.9 million.

Among the first donors was David Bartlett who was diagnosed with a brain tumour in April 2018 and received treatment at the Beatson.

He was one of a few people in Scotland to benefit from a pilot technique when doctors were able to use a diagnostic MRI scanner for radiotherapy planning.

Mr Bartlett and his wife Pamela said the treatment was “without doubt” life-changing. The pair raised thousands of pounds to help others receive the same care.

He said: “It saved me – I’m still here four years since my diagnosis. The professionalism of everybody is amazing.

“The diagnosis wasn’t very good, but the treatment was amazing. Everybody was so friendly.”

MRI Scanner
The new £3.6 million MRI scanner at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre in Glasgow (Medical Illustration, NHSGGC/PA)

Mr Yousaf said he hoped the new technology would allow thousands of Scots to receive “second to none” cancer care.

“I was speaking to David and his wife just a moment ago, and he was telling me the care he has received at the Beatson has been second to none, and that was really pleasing to hear,” he said.

“But we want more and more people to have David’s experience. We want them to have an improved experience in relation to the treatment that we can actually offer them so it’s more precise, it’s more focused, and hopefully it helps with the prognosis in the long term.”

Martin Cawley, chief executive of the Beatson Cancer Charity, said he was in “awe” at the generosity of donors.

He added: “The idea that this machine will provide much more precise treatment for people, radiotherapy planning and treatment, where you can avoid damaging healthy tissue around the tumour is really significant.”

Hugh Adams, a spokesman for the charity Brain Tumour Research, welcomed the new facility.

“Annually there are 16,000 new UK brain tumour patients and for them the treatment options are lacking.

“So this new MRI suite at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre in Glasgow is great news but Brain Tumour Research will continue to campaign for the Government in Holyrood, and the larger cancer charities, to increase their investment in brain tumour research to ensure brain cancer research funding is giving parity with other cancer research funding such as breast and prostate.

“Brain tumour patients like David deserve this,” he said.

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