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  1. ITV Report

Northampton General becomes first hospital to treat head and neck cancer using artificial intelligence

Dr Craig Knighton looks at a treatment plan in progress Credit: Northampton General Hospital

Radiotherapy patients at Northampton General Hospital are among the first in the UK to be benefitting from the use of artificial intelligence. It’s being used to determine the best treatment for head and neck cancer, a particularly complex area to treat due to the proximity of radiosensitive organs like the face, spine and brainstem.

The revolutionary software, called 'RapidPlan', learns from the last 100 treatments at Northampton General to generate an individualised plan for new patients.

Traditionally medical staff would have spent time analysing scans to decide on a treatment Credit: Northampton General Hospital

Not only does this new way of working provide patients with the best possible treatment for their needs, but with minimal human interaction, it saves time. Before this, clinicians and medical physics staff would have spent time analysing scans to decide on a treatment that satisfies the many rules for a plan.

The new software is one of the first in the UK Credit: Northampton General Hospital

“Using this new technology gives our clinicians instant access to the information stored in previous treatment plans, to generate high quality treatment plans in a reduced timeframe. This will allow shorter waiting times and increased numbers of patients treated."

– Dr Craig Knighton, Clinical Director of Oncology and Haematology

The hospital hopes the new system, made by the company Varian, will help create more consistency across departments. Staff are also looking to create a supermodel for radiotherapy treatment across the country.

“It has taken a lot of work from the radiotherapy physics teams at NGH and Varian over four years to get this model ready to be used in practice. It cements the reputation of radiotherapy at NGH being amongst the most advanced and dynamic in the country and we are delighted to see it now being used to help with patient care."

– Dr Craig Knighton, Clinical Director of Oncology and Haematology

The software has already been used to plan the treatment of 12 patients and will also be used on Northampton General’s gynaecology patients.