National Physical Laboratory

Advancing cancer therapy

Helical tomotherapy is a new and particularly effective way to treat cancer patients, but the treatment machines cannot be calibrated in accordance with current UK codes of practice.

Advancing cancer therapy

These codes of practice enable hospitals to provide accurate, traceable doses of radiation to cancer patients.

NPL identified this risk and applied its research into new techniques to support the safe and accurate delivery of tomotherapy in UK hospitals. The machines used are unable to produce the 10 cm x 10 cm reference beam normally required for calibration.

NPL proposed the use of its alanine dosimeters to make dose measurements which are traceable to NPL's primary standard for absorbed dose. NPL worked with tomotherapy machine manufacturers, OSL (Oncology Systems Limited), the UK distributor for TomoTherapy Inc, and Cromwell Hospital to ensure that the commissioning of the first tomotherapy machine in the UK included traceable calibration of the doses delivered to patients.

These calibrations are now offered as a routine service on a commercial basis to any hospital introducing or already using helical tomotherapy.

For further information, please contact Simon Duane

Find out more about NPL's research in Ionising Radiation

Last Updated: 10 Oct 2012
Created: 25 Jan 2011

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