A grandfather has become the UK’s first lung cancer patient to benefit from a state-of-art radiotherapy treatment at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust.

Barry Staniforth, 81, was treated using the Elekta MR-guided linear accelerator (MR-linac) machine that performs real-time MRI scans while X-ray beams target the tumour, making it more accurate and reducing side effects.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic Barry was quickly referred to The Christie in Manchester for treatment. He then received four weeks of radiotherapy to treat his lung cancer using the pioneering Elekta MR-linac machine.

The MR-guided linear accelerator (MR-linac) combines magnetic resonance (MR) scanning and tumour-busting radiotherapy to deliver magnetic resonance radiotherapy in one hi-tech package.

Barry’s treatment was part of the MOMENTUM trial which is a worldwide radiotherapy trial using the MR-linac. It aims to target a wide range of cancers to find out which ones react best to the treatment before it is hopefully rolled out across the globe. The trial is being overseen by Dr Cynthia Eccles and the MR-linac team at The Christie and supported by the NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre.

Barry, from Sandbach, had only just retired, aged 79, before his diagnosis. He was treated by specialist lung oncology team headed up by Dr Ahmed Salem and Professor Corinne Faivre-Finn, with support from the MR-Linac clinical lead Professor Ananya Choudhury, consultant research radiographer, Dr Cynthia Eccles and physics lead Dr Rob Chuter. The research team are also based at The University of Manchester.

Dr Ahmed Salem said: “The MR-linac’s unique ability to provide real time scans of the tumour and healthy tissues while treatment is being delivered provides an opportunity to improve radiotherapy accuracy & reduce side-effects in selected patients.

“We hope that Barry will be the first of many lung cancer patients to have treatment on this innovative machine. It is a privilege to be part of the team that made this possible”.

Being able to more specifically target tumours and avoid more healthy tissue around them means the machine can use target X-rays better. The £5.3m machine was part-funded by donations to The Christie charity.

Since the opening of the UK’s first NHS high energy proton beam centre in 2018, The Christie is now one of only two sites worldwide to offer both these pioneering radiotherapy treatments.