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Remove the Mask - Improving the experience of cancer patients

Raised toward our $100,000 Goal
113 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on July 26, at 11:59 PM AEST
Project Owners

Remove the Mask - Improving the experience of cancer patients


This is a typical story for head and neck patients receiving radiation therapy, who all need to wear the “dreaded” mask. The mask is a safety feature which is necessary to ensure the radiation can be delivered to their tumour accurately, but research suggests that up to 50% of patients may be experiencing clinically significant anxiety while wearing the mask.



The University of Sydney is leading research into improving the comfort of patients during cancer treatment. We’ve invented breakthrough technology to treat head & neck cancer without the mask. We want to bring this world-first discovery to head & neck cancer patients. With your support, together we could minimize the discomfort and anxiety millions of head & neck cancer patients will face.



Our goal is to raise $100,000 in just 8 weeks for the ‘Remove the Mask’ project. 100% of your donation will go directly towards research into improving the comfort of patients during cancer treatment. Donations AU$2 and above are tax deductible.


Why do patients need to wear a mask?

Radiation therapy is a highly effective cancer treatment which works by delivering a precise, fixed beam of radiation to the tumour. The mask holds the patient and the tumour in position during the treatment, which prevents surrounding healthy organs such as the spinal cord, brain and eyes from being damaged by the radiation beam.


How will we treat patients without the mask?

Instead of locking the patient in to position in front of the fixed treatment beam using the mask, we’re developing surface-mapping technology which will enable the treatment beam to lock onto the patient’s tumour, track it and move with it, even if the patient moves. This will not only make masks obsolete; it will reduce side effects and make treatment more accurate and effective.


How do we know this will be possible?

At the University's ACRF Image X Institute, we’ve already pioneered technology solutions for tracking and treating tumours in the liver, breast and lungs with sub-mm accuracy. We know our technology could be used to treat head and neck cancer too - the final piece of the puzzle is to develop our surface-mapping technology, which will map the shape and motion of the patient’s face, neck and shoulders to guide the accuracy of the treatment.

Is it safe to remove the mask?

Yes. We’ve developed numerous technologies which have the successfully met safety standards to be used in clinical trials, as well as TGA and FDA approvals. Our device will go through the same rigorous approval processes all new medical technologies must go through before use in clinical trials.

Who is in the team?

The University's team contains experts from radiation oncology, psycho-oncology, software engineering and medical physics, but these aren’t the only types of expertise needed to face this challenge. We’ll be working closely with head & neck cancer survivors to gain insight in to their treatment experiences – this will help us create the best solution.


How can I support Remove the Mask?


By far the most effective way you can show your support is to donate to our campaign through the links on this page. We greatly appreciate any amount you can afford to donate. Your donation will go towards a project which we’re passionate to bring to life for the millions of cancer patients who could receive this treatment in the future. 100% of funds raised will go directly to the project – no marketing or advertising costs, no overhead administration costs.

All donations $2 and above are tax deductible. Spread the word!

After you donate, you can help us spread the word about our project by sharing this page on social media, using #removethemask.

If you encounter any issues making your donation, please call the University of Sydney Gift Hotline on 02 8627 8818 and we will assist you in making your gift. 

If you’ve been affected by head & neck cancer, we’d love to hear from you - tag us on twitter in a photo of you (with your mask if you still have it!) and share with us a little bit about your experience. @imagexinstitute

Are you part of an organisation or support group for patients with Head & Neck cancer? We encourage you to share our project with your group! Contact our media officer if you’d like us to get in touch with your organisation or support group directly.

Until we remove the mask, what can be done?

If you or someone you know has head & neck cancer, there are a number of organisations which can support you and answer your questions, we’ve listed some below.

Beyond Five

Beyond Five is dedicated to improving the quality of life of everyone affected by head and neck cancer through education and access to support.

Cancer Council

Helping people from the point of diagnosis through to treatment and survivorship.

Targeting Cancer

Targeting Cancer develop and deliver useful resources about radiation therapy, to assist those touched by cancer, now or in the future.

Are you experiencing discomfort or anxiety from your mask?

If you’re experiencing any anxiety or discomfort due to your immobilisation mask, you don’t need to ‘grin and bear it’ - we encourage you to speak to your radiation therapists and nurses. They may be able to offer you solutions to help you get through your time under the mask more comfortably.

Thank you!

To arrange interviews with The Remove the Mask team members or to find out more about the project, please contact Julia Johnson (02 8627 1119).


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