L-R: Dr Pinelope Gkogkou, Consultant Clinical Oncologist, Sarah Betts, Advanced Planning Lead Clinical Scientist, Alex martin, Advanced Radiographer in Lung cancer
A multi-disciplinary team of cancer specialists at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (NNUHFT) has launched a new radiotherapy technique, which could transform the lives of selected patients living with cancer.
This is part of a national drive to expand SABR (Stereotactic Ablative Body Radiotherapy )services across the country, enabling more patients to benefit from a technique which sees patients receiving a higher dose of radiation to a more targeted area of cancerous tissue.
Emerging clinical trial data have demonstrated the effectiveness of this treatment in patients with cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. The multi-disciplinary team of doctors, physicists and radiographers are on target to launch the new service in November.
SABR uses powerful x-rays to destroy tumour cells. Advancements in radiotherapy treatment planning and delivery can enable very high doses of radiation to be given to the target, whilst at the same time avoiding surrounding healthy tissues. This means treatments can be given over a shorter period of time and come with fewer side effects.
Since 2014 this treatment has been used at the NNUH only for patients with early lung cancer. It is now being extended to patients with more advanced stages of cancer, for example when it has spread to between one and three sites in the body.
NNUH oncology doctor David Maskell, said: “SABR can improve local control rates and ultimately extend survival in selected patients whose cancer has spread to just a few sites of the body. It is a safe, effective technique which has huge benefits for patients who would otherwise be offered long courses of radiotherapy, surgery or systemic treatments such as chemotherapy or hormones. In the past patients eligible for this treatment would have needed to travel to London. We are extremely excited that we can now develop a SABR service here at the Norfolk and Norwich.”
This service has been developed by the team while maintaining radiotherapy treatment throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
Head of Radiotherapy Mark Gilham added: “We have made many changes due to the pandemic which has enabled us to maintain a safe service for our patients. Following national guidance, and when safe to do so, this meant a small number of patients shielded at home earlier in the year. We kept in close contact and the great majority have now had or are having their radiotherapy treatment.
“The Radiotherapy Team has been incredible because, not only have they maintained the service, they have been able to bring in this new treatment for our patients.”
The service is scheduled to go on stream late November.