Evaluation of the palliative radiotherapy pathway in a single institute: Can an MR Linac improve efficiency?

Rebecca Benson, Abigael Clough, Claire Nelder, Eleanor Pitt, Robin Portner, Maria Vassiliou, Lisa McDaid, Ananya Choudhury, Agata Rembielak, Cynthia Eccles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Palliative radiotherapy (RT) is effectively used to relieve cancer related symptoms. The demand for these services is increasing worldwide. Rapid response clinics have been developed as a means to streamline the palliative RT radiotherapy process and increase efficiency and improve patient experiences. Key components to successful rapid response palliative RT are access to care, streamlined services and innovation. To successfully implement a rapid response RT programme, it is essential to identify gaps between currently provided care and ideal or enhanced care. The aims of this work are to audit the current palliative RT workflow at our institution both prior to and during the coronavirus pandemic. This work reports the impact of covid-19 on rate of palliative RT referrals and proposes a radiographer led, MR guided rapid response workflow to reduce wait times Methods: A retrospective audit of palliative radiotherapy booking forms was completed over a two yearperiod (2019-2020) to assess the current pathway both prior to and during the covid-19 pandemic. This audit identified patients who had received urgent/emergency spinal RT in the specified timeframe. Further data on these patients was collected using departmental oncology information systems to form a detailed analysis of the pathway and wait times. Data was recorded and analysed using Microsoft Excel. Results: A total of 813 patients met the inclusion criteria for this audit. Data was reported for 2019 and 2020 separately to determine any significant impact caused by the covid-19 pandemic. In 2020 there was an 11.5% increase in referrals for palliative radiotherapy with an equal portion (81%) of total referrals in each year being for single fractions. Timelines from referral to treatment delivery were reported, with those patients receiving same day single fraction RT palliative radiotherapy undergoing further analysis to determine the amount of time spent in the department. Mean wait time for these patients was 5 hours and 20 minutes in 2019 but increased by 20.9% in 2020. Conclusions: The increasing demand for palliative RT due to rising global cancer rates and extended life expectancy due to advanced systemic treatments may lead to increased wait times. An increase in both referrals and mean wait time was seen during the covid-19 pandemic. Improving efficiency and access to care is essential for this population. The MR Linac could play a role in streamlining palliative RT workflows due to its ability to employ a scan, plan and treat model in a single session. This work forms preliminary support for the development of a trial one stop palliative program on the MR Linac.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S44-S50
JournalJournal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022


  • MR Linac
  • Palliative
  • Patient Care

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Cancer Research Centre


Dive into the research topics of 'Evaluation of the palliative radiotherapy pathway in a single institute: Can an MR Linac improve efficiency?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this