Dee Mathieson

Oncology is a branch of medicine that deals with the study, treatment, diagnosis, and prevention of cancer. The etymological origin is the Greek word (ónkos), meaning ‘tumour,’ ‘volume’ or ‘mass.’ It is also something most of us would not wish to spend too much spare time thinking about, given its somewhat unnerving and distressing nature. 

It makes the work undertaken by Dee Mathieson – someone with the opposite view to this attitude – all the more impressive. She has had a long career in the advancement of cancer care, starting in the clinic, and moving to industry. 

Dynamic tells the story of an award-winning pioneer… 


Dee was educated at Sutton High School from 1970-77. In 1979, she enrolled to study Radiation Therapy at Guy’s Hospital, London, earning a DCR(T) degree in 1981. She completed a Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Physics from London South Bank University from 1984 to 1987.

Soon after she graduated with her BSc, Dee joined – well, was headhunted by – Dutch international giant Philips Electronics as a Technical Training Specialist, to educate engineers about the clinical aspects of radiotherapy and the physics and technology behind the cancer treatment systems they produced – linear accelerators or linacs.

During her training and work experience, she realised the technology could be significantly improved to increase the accuracy of radiation targeting, while also improving patient comfort. Together with the Medical Physics team she was working with, she produced some transformative ideas.

One example she cites is a vacuum moulding system which could replace the sticky tape and foam used to position and stabilise patients’ heads for treatment with a simple plastic mask.

By her own admission, her career with Philips was varied, holding global roles in oncology and neuroscience, including service engineering, product management, marketing, commercial operations, and service operations.

In late 1996, Philips gathered its staff together to inform them that Swedish company Elekta had signed a letter of intent to buy the Radiotherapy Division from Philips.

Dee herself remembers the meeting. “When we heard Elekta was planning to buy the radiotherapy division from Philips, there were quite a few of us who looked at each other and said ‘who?’ – and I was one of them. At the time, I was not aware of the benefits of Gamma Knife radiosurgery nor the rich history of the Leksell family,” she says.

Prof. Lars Leksell was a pioneering Swedish neuro-surgeon who invented Gamma Knife and whose family founded Elekta in 1972. The company was started at the suggestion of his then 20-year-old son Laurent (Larry) who – when Prof. Leksell believed only five Gamma Knife systems would be enough for the world’s needs – realised his father had seriously under-estimated his own invention.

The name Elekta – from the Greek word ‘elektos,’ meaning chosen or elected – was kept from a previous company Prof. Leksell set up. It was into this company that the Radiotherapy Division of Eindhoven-based Philips Electronics was acquired in 1997 by Elekta, and Dee with it. She flourished at the Swedish company.

Dee’s achievements and projects within the company are far too long for this magazine to list; her story is a book in its own right. Suffice to say, 30-odd years of research, development and innovation in the radiotherapy field have seen enormous leaps forward in patient care. During this time, Dee has been directly or indirectly involved in setting product strategy for groundbreaking innovations which not only improved the accuracy of radiation treatment, but the experience for patients and clinicians.

As Elekta made massive leaps forward in cancer care and treatment, you could find Dee at the very heart of those innovations. She is now Senior Vice President, and the first female Managing Director of Elekta Ltd in the UK.

Prior to that, her long tenure at Elekta has included Senior VP, Business Line Linac Solutions; Managing Director, Senior Vice President of Product Quality & Service; Senior Vice President of Portfolio Management; Senior Vice President of Global Commercial Operations; Senior Vice President of Business Line Management; and Vice President of Global Product Management.

Dee is, in her own words, “a highly motivated healthcare professional with over 40 years’ experience, with an in-depth knowledge of clinical techniques, physics and applied technology supporting her employer to grow their business and reputation in the field of radiation therapy. She is a sought after and regular media commentator and motivational speaker for a range of audiences including
businesses, Key Opinion Leaders and the financial and business analyst community.”

Almost four decades, and several different roles later – each one with more responsibility than the previous one, and with scientific breakthroughs not even thought of at the outset, Dee has been a central part of it all. If there has been a pioneering procedure in the world of cancer care and treatment, Dee has almost certainly been pivotal in that process.

In 2022, Dee became a Member of the Board of Trustees for The Mary How Trust for Cancer Prevention, and the following year, she accepted the role of Chairwoman of Gatwick Diamond Business.

In February this year, Nescot (North East Surrey College of Technology) celebrated student success at the annual Higher Education (HE) Awards graduation ceremony at Epsom Downs Racecourse. The college awarded her an Honorary Fellowship. Sharing her journey, she said, “I am very grateful to Nescot for helping me on my way to what has been a fantastic and varied career in cancer care.”

But her story does not finish there. Into the future, she intends to continue striving for ever-better care, treatments and, ultimately, outcomes. “At Elekta, our Access 2025 strategy is built on four pillars: innovation; partner integration; customer focus and driving adoption of radiation therapy across the globe, reflecting Elekta’s vision to create a world where everyone has access to the best cancer care,” states Dee. “We can and must do better to improve access to radiotherapy for those who will truly benefit from the therapy.”

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