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Beatson relies on child's imagination

6th October 2019

Opened in 2008, and based within Glasgow’s Gartnavel campus, the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre is the lead centre for the delivery of non-surgical cancer care for the West of Scotland, incorporating the academic units of Medical Oncology, Radiation Oncology, Translational Research and Palliative Care.

Serving a population of 2.6m, the centre has clinical links with 16 hospitals in Glasgow and other health board areas.

The Beatson is Scotland’s largest cancer centre and the second largest in the UK.  As a result, the workload is varied: each year, the Beatson team sees more than 8,000 new patients, and more than 20,000 courses of chemotherapy and around 6,500 courses of radiotherapy are administered.

Radiotherapy requires patient immobilisation and for many treatments, thermoplastic masks are the modality of choice. The Beatson has been users of Klarity masks supplied by Vertec Scientific for about eight years. They use Klarity white popper lockdown head and neck masks, as well as head only masks. Klarity manufactured and supplied special SABR masks about four years ago and recently the company manufactured a special SABR mask designed by the mould room technicians at the Centre for the larger patient.

The problem with radiotherapy and masks is that the process can be very intimidating, especially for children. To try to add some fun into fitting and use, the mould room technicians decided to decorate the plastic. This has proved very successful and children now look forward to being fitted with their own special mask.

Pictured in the mould room are Clinical Technologists Hilary Sturrock (on left) and Fiona McCulloch. Every child who is treated at the centre uses their own imagination to create their personal mask design which can include fictional cartoon characters, music icons, animals and mythical creatures. Hilary comments, “We don’t have catalogue of designs, but are inspired and challenged by the incredible creativity of the patient!” When the treatment is over, the patient is presented with their personal mask as a keepsake.


Photograph: Kirsty Lattka, Gartnavel Medical Illustration


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