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Before this, patients undergoing radiotherapy had no option but to have tattoo marks on their body to align radiotherapy treatment.

St. Vincent’s Private Hospital (SVPH) is the first hospital in Ireland to pioneer new technology which removes the need for permanent skin markings – traditionally a cause of significant distress to patients who have been recently diagnosed with cancer – and a continuous reminder of the disease after their cancer has gone.

The new, high precision, innovative technology called Surface Guided Radiotherapy (SGRT) offers an alternative to tattoos by using a 3D optical scan of the body surface to set up and verify the patient’s position against their CT planning reference scan.   Using over twenty thousand reference points on the patient’s skin surface the technology can track and detect motion with sub-millimetre accuracy.

SGRT allows us to apply radiation treatment in a highly timely and targeted manner – without needing to permanently mark the patient to deliver the treatment.   All of this is incredibly positive and is likely to result in stronger health outcomes for the patient both physically and psychologically.

One of the first patient’s to benefit from the new technology said: 

 “Getting a cancer diagnosis was devastating and once the initial shock passes, all you want to do is start the treatment as soon as possible and get back to the life you had before you were sick.  Nobody ever tells you, however, that you will be faced with a daily reminder for the rest of your life about your illness through these permanent tattoo markings. I’m a mother with young children and I didn’t want to tell them I was sick.  I was so relieved when they told me in the hospital that I didn’t need tattoos anymore – which might sound minor considering everything else I was going through but it really mattered.  I wanted to look forward and envisage a life without cancer and I certainly didn’t need any unnecessary war wounds or visible marks on my body which I would have to explain – and remind me of what I had gone through”