Clinical service achievements

Innovative new life-saving radiotherapy treatment available at UHDB

The stereotactic radiotherapy team

An innovative new form of radiotherapy that can save the lives of patients with cancer is being rolled out at UHDB, with the Trust being one of only a few centres that can offer this treatment.

Stereotactic Radiotherapy is a ground-breaking treatment which targets bony and nodal oligomets to give cancer patients a better quality of life.

The treatment, which is an advanced form of Stereotactic Ablative Radiotherapy (SABR) requires an extremely high degree of precision and accuracy and the team at Royal Derby Hospital has been hard at work for the last two years ensuring all validation processes have been completed before treating their first two patients.

Dr Prantik Das, is a Consultant Clinical Oncologist at UHDB and is also the Associate Clinical Director for Oncology and lead clinician for Oligometastatic SABR treatments. He said securing this form of treatment, has put the Trust “in the driving seat” because it is one of only a few centres to deliver it and allows the patients to receive the care they need closer to home instead of having to travel further afield.

He said: “A lot of hard work needs to be done and it is a lengthy process for us, but not the patient.

“First, we will see the patient and discuss their case in a multi-disciplinary meeting to see if it is the right thing to do for the patient. Then the patient will attend the planning scan and will receive the treatment in three to five sessions spread out across the week.”

Although patients have to pass a certain criteria to be eligible for the Stereotactic Radiotherapy, the treatment normally lasts three to five days and saves the patient having to return regularly for chemotherapy, which can sometimes have upsetting side-effects.

Dr Das said: “The patient has to fulfil certain criteria to be eligible and the patients’ tumour has to fulfil that criteria as well. So it’s not for everyone, it's for selective patients.

“If you have a cancer that comes back after your initial curative intent of treatment we can treat patients in up to three areas with this technology.

“Sometimes when the patient’s cancer comes back they may have some other underlying health problem which makes them ineligible to have chemotherapy or drug treatment, but with this option you don't need to have super fitness. If the patient has reasonable fitness and no life-threatening underlying condition, the patient will be eligible for this treatment.

“So while this is only available for selective patients, those selective patients’ journeys can be much more effective from a cancer outcome and a quality of life point of view.”

Dr Das said one of the main benefits of the treatment is that patients can avoid the side effects of chemotherapy and instead be treated in a few quick sessions.

He said: “One of the best things is saying to the patient instead of coming to hospital for six months of chemotherapy you can come for three or four days of this radiotherapy, there's no comparison.

“Unlike chemotherapy, the patient doesn't need to come back every two weeks and have an intravenous infusion. There is no risk of infection, no sickness, vomiting, diarrhoea.

“There are some side effects, but most of them are very localised where you get the treatment and do not last long.

“People can go back to their normal life with no disability, no hair loss or social embarrassment.

“It's a much more preferred option for the selected patient.”

David Gaskin was the first patient to receive this treatment.  He had prostate cancer six years ago and when doctors recently discovered the cancer had spread to his lymph glands, he was relieved to find he was able to have stereotactic radiotherapy instead of the hormone treatment he previously received.

Mr Gaskin, who lives in Alvaston, Derby, said: “After receiving a course of hormone treatment followed by radiotherapy which I finished in March 2016 and was successful, my PSA came right down.

“Fortunately the doctors kept an eye on me with regular check-ups.

“My PSA started to rise again so I was sent for a CT scan and then a bone scan which did not reveal anything. I then had a PET/CT scan which revealed the cancer had spread to two lymph glands.

“I then had three treatments of SABR at Royal Derby Hospital which saved going back and forth to Nottingham and there were no side effects like I had previously.

“I have had a little bit of tiredness, but rest fixed that.

“Otherwise it has been wonderful. I feel so fortunate that NHS staff have looked after me so well and my wife is also very pleased I was able to have this treatment which again seems to have been successful.

“I feel great and I’m extremely thankful for the excellent care and attention I have received”.

While the first two patients were treated with the Stereotactic Radiotherapy last month, it has been a long time coming for the team – two years to be exact.

Dr Das said there has been a “tremendous effort behind the scenes” by his colleagues, who include Lydia Kedziorek, Therapeutic Radiographer who is a Treatment Superintendent and SABR Lead, Roy Crawford, Head of Radiotherapy Physics and Victoria Malysz-Smith, Radiotherapy Physicist who is the Acting Head of Treatment Planning for SABR.

Dr Das said: “You need expertise, cutting edge technology and a very capable team to deliver this world class treatment.”