New high tech treatment for lung cancer starts at NNUH
Patients with certain types of lung cancer will have their treatment times dramatically cut with the introduction of a new type of radiotherapy at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH).
Stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR) reduces the number of treatments from 20-30 to just 3-5 by delivering a higher, targeted dose of radiation to the tumour. This avoids the need for numerous visits to the hospital.
SABR is used as a less invasive alternative to surgery to treat small primary lung cancers measuring less than 5cm. A number of patients are now benefitting from the new SABR treatment which will become routine over the next few months.
Dr ZacTasigiannopoulos, Clinical Oncologist at NNUH says: “SABR is a powerful treatment with a high curative rate. We are exploiting this new technology to treat patients more quickly and benefit those who would not be fit enough for major surgery.
SABR is being introduced using a new advanced linear accelerator which has been installed in the recently opened Winterton Unit at NNUH.
The technique relies on detailed computerised planning of the treatment and precise set up to deliver the radiation dose with extreme precision, i.e. stereotactically. To be suitable for SABR, the lung cancer must be sited away from major organs such as the heart or spinal cord.
This technique allows doctors to give a high dose of radiation to the tumour in a short amount of time.
Keeping patients completely still whilst they receive the higher doses of radiotherapy is imperative. When radiography staff could not find the ideal piece of equipment they designed and built their own. The Big C generously donated a grant which has enabled NNUH staff to develop the bespoke piece of equipment in-house. It will also be used for other lung cancer patients to help them remain as still and comfortable as possible during their treatment.
Nikki Morris, Director of Clinical Services at Big C, says: Big C have been delighted to support both the staff and the patients in enabling such innovation to happen here in Norwich in order to provide patients with the best possible care.
In future, the treatment could be extended to treat secondary cancers in the lung and liver.