All of Scotland’s cancer centres are to be allocated money to provide high-tech radiotherapy.

Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon announced £20m would be invested across the five centres.

It will come from the radiotherapy equipment replacement programme, which makes annual payments to ensure equipment is bought and replaced as needed.

Precise radiation

The funding will enable the centres to use linear accelerators, which generate high energy x-rays.

This will include the capacity to provide intensity modulated radiation therapy, which uses computer-controlled x-ray accelerators to deliver precise radiation doses to a malignant tumour or specific areas.

UK comparison

As revealed by HSJ, cancer patients across the UK are missing out on intensity modulated radiotherapy because the NHS is struggling to invest in staff and technology.

At that time, Philip Mayles, head of the physics department at the Clatterbridge Centre for Oncology, said an estimated 20 per cent of cancer cases - or 48,000 UK patients - should be receiving the treatment each year.

Replacing equipment

Ms Sturgeon said: “I am particularly pleased that new machines, including replacement equipment, will have the capacity for intensity modulated radiotherapy.

“This is the kind of advance technology, where radiation can be adjusted to vary the doses given to different parts of the body, [that] can help deliver improvements in treatment offered by NHS Scotland.”

The announcement follows the publication of Scotland’s cancer strategy, Better Cancer Care, last October.