Well, I was quite impressed while reading about a new technology for treating cancer on the BBC Health website today:
"A robot radiotherapy machine to treat cancer is to be available in the UK for the first time from February.
Called the Cyberknife, it moves with a patient's breathing so
tumours can be targeted with greater accuracy, and damage to healthy
tissue is reduced."
Which all sounded fine and dandy until you get to the caveat:
"The machine will be at the private Harley Street Clinic in London."
Oh dear, so you can only get access to the treatment in the UK if you can afford to pay for it? The situation is equally muddled in the USA, where some Medicare carriers will pay for it and some will not, as reported recently by the WSJ.
By the way, conventional radiotherapy typically involves twenty or more short sessions with low-dose radiation. The Cyberknife can deliver high dose beams with
greater accuracy, which means that patients receive fewer treatments, often as few as 3.
In other words, the new radiotherapy can target the cancer cells and spare many of the surrounding normal cells. That's very good news indeed for patients.
Although it's still a relatively new technology undergoing research in global clinical trials, it may have applications in treatment of cancers such as brain, prostate and liver cancer; time will tell, as the Washington Post noted last month. More robust data from the clinical trials may prove to be an interesting area to watch out for.