The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies
Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies Bicentenary

New era of radiotherapy for pets in the UK

The installation of the the Varian Medical Systems VitalBeam linear accelerator in the Hospital for Small Animals, heralds a new era of radiotherapy for pets in the UK.

The Varian Medical Systems VitalBeam linear accelerator
The Varian Medical Systems VitalBeam linear accelerator

The Hospital for Small Animals has introduced new technology, which places it at the forefront of veterinary cancer treatment in Europe. The Varian Medical Systems VitalBeam linear accelerator offers the same cutting-edge radiation treatment options you would find in any human hospital.

Advanced Therapy 

The Varian system is equipped to deliver the most advanced forms of radiation therapy, including static gantry intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), dynamic gantry IMRT/RapidArc, electron therapy and conventional 3D radiation therapy.

IMRT is an advanced treatment technique, which allows the delivery of a precise dose of treatment to almost any tumour shape. In particular cases this technique reduces the dose to normal structures, which decreases side effects in normal tissues which are close to the tumour. Secondly, can IMRT allow an increased total dose of radiation to be delivered to the tumour.  A common example is the use of IMRT to spare the eyes, brain, skin and oral cavity when treating nasal tumours. R(D)SVS is the only place in the UK to offer IMRT.

The accelerator is also equipped with cone-beam CT imaging facilities, which enables the radiation oncologist to position the animal extremely accurately so that treatment is safer and more effective. It is the only veterinary linear accelerator in the UK with this capability.

New Treatment Options

the radiation therapy team
The Radiation Therapy team

The new radiation unit will also soon be able to treat patients with stereotactic radiotherapy. This is a type of protocol that usually consists of one, two or three high-dose radiotherapy fractions, delivered with pin-point accuracy and in a short period of time.

By giving much more targeted treatment you can give high doses less frequently as you are mainly hitting the tumour cells not the adjacent normal tissues. It also means a shorter stay in the hospital and less anaesthetics. This type of radiotherapy treatment modality has been successfully implemented in other places in the world for many tumour types, such as nasal and brain tumours.

It is particularly suitable for small intracranial tumours, such as meningiomas or pituitary adenomas, in which similar efficacy can be achieved compared to a conventional radiotherapy protocol involving 20 treatments. The Hospital for Small Animals will be the first institution offering this treatment modality to pets in the UK.

Experience and Advanced Qualifications

American and European boarded veterinary radiation oncologist Dr Magdalena Parys is joined by European board certified oncologist Juan Carlos Serra and therapeutic radiographer Emma McCormick in the radiation therapy team. It also includes additional board-certified medical oncologists, Prof David Argyle, Dr Spela Bavcar, Dr Sue Murphy and Dr Evi Pecceu, oncology-specific resident, interns and nurses.



The Riddell-Swan Veterinary Cancer Centre

Press coverage in the Vet Times


About the Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies

The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies is a one-of-a-kind centre of excellence in clinical activity, teaching and research. Our purpose-built campus, set against the backdrop of the beautiful Pentland Hills Regional Park, is home to more than eight hundred staff and almost fourteen hundred students, all of whom contribute to our exceptional community ethos.

The School comprises:

We represent the largest concentration of animal science related expertise in Europe, impacting local, regional, national and international communities in terms of economic growth, the provision of clinical services and the advancement of scientific knowledge.