Clinical service achievements

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Cancer patients to benefit from ground-breaking advancements in radiotherapy treatment

Radiotherapy team

A new life-saving form of radiotherapy treatment is now being offered for the very first time at UHDB to patients with lung cancer.

UHDB is now able to offer Stereotactic Ablative Radiotherapy (SABR) treatment at Royal Derby Hospital and last week began treating our first patient with lung cancer using the advanced technique.

SABR allows for tumours to be targeted with very high doses of radiation over fewer sessions, using state-of-the-art image guidance technology, with this high level of precision especially important when treating cancer of the lung, due to there being a moving target as the patient breathes in and out.

Previously, these patients would’ve had to travel to a hospital outside the area to undergo this innovative radiotherapy but after being named as an official provider of SABR, certain patients will instead now be able to access this service much closer to their homes as an outpatient at Royal Derby Hospital – making a difficult experience a little bit easier.

The Radiotherapy team at UHDB has worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to complete the NHS England SABR Expansion Programme and are thankfully now able to offer this form of radiotherapy as an option to patients with smaller cancers that have developed in the lung.

Roy Crawford, Head of Radiation Physics at UHDB, said: “As a department, we’re totally committed to continually improving our Radiotherapy service, so we’re delighted to now be able to offer this advanced radiotherapy technique, locally for the people of Derbyshire and East Staffordshire.

Radiotherapy team

“Up until now, we haven’t been able to deliver radiotherapy with curative intent for secondary cancers, just for symptom management, so we are very excited to now be able to offer this chance of a cure at UHDB to some of these limited secondary cancers that perhaps wouldn’t have existed before.

“A lot of hard work has gone on over the last year to put us in a position to be nationally accredited as an SABR provider, which is a real feather in the cap for UHDB and puts us right up there as one of the leading Trusts for this advanced treatment. We are really pleased to say that we have now commenced SABR on our first lung cancer patient and look forward to being able to utilise this high-precision technique to help more patients in the years to come.”

This millimetre-scale accuracy ensures that the radiation is concentrated on the tumour and not the surrounding organs, with the minimally invasive procedure offering a much more convenient form of treatment to surgery, with the patient instead able to attend as an outpatient over a few days.

While SABR is currently only available to some lung cancer patients, the Trust hopes to eventually be able to apply this treatment to other forms of cancer going forward, with UHDB signing up to take part in a trial, known as PACE-C, to use the technique to treat patients with prostate cancer.

In total, six UHDB patients with prostate cancer have been identified to take part in the PACE-C trial and are set to undergo the SABR treatment at Royal Derby Hospital from next month.

Dr Prantik Das, Consultant Clinical Oncologist at UHDB, said: “We are really proud to be among the handful of Trusts in the country to be selected to take part in this important trial. This is a revolutionary technique and could make a huge difference to patients with cancer of the prostate, by using much shorter, higher doses of radiation than standard radiotherapy, and targeting the tumour alone with extreme accuracy to reduce any associated side-effects.”

In addition to advancing SABR treatment, UHDB has also continued to provide a number of innovations within Radiotherapy throughout the pandemic, with around 40 prostate cancer patients benefiting from a radiotherapy technique known as SpaceOAR Hydrogel since March 2020. Find out more about this minimally invasive treatment >

Dr Das added: “The last year has been like a rollercoaster because of Covid-19 but I’m really proud that, even during the peak of the pandemic, we haven’t stopped and we’ve still been able to offer these new techniques that will help save patients’ lives and improve their quality of life. The teamwork and dedication on show across our Radiotherapy teams has been fantastic and has allowed us to continue to give the world-class treatments that our patients living with cancer deserve.”

Prantik Das