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Pioneering radiotherapy treatment at the Berkshire Cancer Centre

Pioneering radiotherapy technology, which will revolutionise the way some cancer patients are treated, is being launched at the Berkshire Cancer Centre (BCC), based at Reading’s Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust (RBFT) this week.

Studies have shown that SABR – Stereotactic Ablative Body Radiotherapy – can be more effective than traditional radiotherapy for some cancers because it delivers a far more powerful, targeted beam of high energy X-rays directly to a tumour. This means the tumour receives a very large dose in fewer treatments and fewer visits to the department for patients.

SABR’s higher precision means the very intensive beams are targeted exactly on the tumour. Initially it will be used to treat lung cancer patients but the plan is to then roll it out to treat other appropriate cancers for which benefit has been proven.

Dr Joss Adams, SABR Clinical Lead said, “SABR is a very precise and effective radiotherapy technique and will bring big benefits to our patients. Traditional radiotherapy outcomes for some lung cancers will be improved due to the larger dose of radiation delivered directly to the tumour which means there’s a greater chance the tumour cells will not survive the treatment”

Professor Colin Baker, Head of Radiotherapy Physics and SABR Project Lead said: “Introducing SABR is a great achievement for the BCC team, involving a huge amount of hard work from our radiographers, clinical oncologists and medical physicists. It’s been made possible with the support of NHS England’s SABR Expansion Programme, involving external audit from the UK Radiotherapy Trials QA Team (RTTQA), the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and mentorship from colleagues at University Hospitals Birmingham and Oxford University Hospitals.”

In a separate ground breaking move, The Berkshire Cancer Centre was the first NHS site in the South of England to introduce Surface Guided Radiation Therapy (SGRT). This technology eliminates the need to put permanent markers, like tattoos, on a patient’s body to aid treatment set up. When a patient is having treatment any slight movement means the tumour is outside of the intended treatment area. SGRT halts the beam if the patient moves and so ensures that the tumour is always within the intended treatment area and minimises dose to normal surrounding tissue

Vicky Hammond-Turner, Lead SABR Radiographer, said: “At the Berkshire Cancer Centre we will be combining the high dose regime of SABR with precise active monitoring given using SGRT to provide effective and accurate treatment for those patients where this technique is appropriate”

Steve McManus, Chief Executive of the RBH said: “I’m thrilled the team are, yet again, leading the field in the treatment and care of cancer patients. They have put in a huge amount of work to ensure everything is in place and ready to be launched this week, and to achieve this whilst dealing with the demands placed on us by Covid has been a real credit to everyone involved.”

Strike Action

Our Trust will be impacted by Royal College of Nursing strike action on 15 and 20 December. We are working to ensure minimal disruption and will contact patients directly if we have to cancel appointments. 

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