15 November 2021

The first patient has been treated at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH) with a revolutionary type of radiotherapy that will bring benefits for those undergoing treatment.

SABR (Stereotactic Ablative Radiotherapy) is a treatment for early-stage lung tumours. It delivers an extremely high dose of radiation and targets the tumour more precisely than other radiotherapy treatments.

As it is treating a smaller area it limits the effect on other healthy organs such as the spinal cord, heart and the healthy part of the lung.

SABR treatment also cuts back on the number of radiotherapy treatments a patient has to have –reducing it from 20 treatments, delivered daily, to just five treatments, given every other day.

Hayley Flavell, Director of Nursing at SaTH, said: “Congratulations to the SABR radiotherapy team for successfully treating their first patient. It has taken determination and many years of hard work to get to this stage and it is fantastic to see the team so focused on new ways of delivering care that will bring real benefits for the patients we serve.”

Extensive work was carried out by a multidisciplinary SABR team over many years before it could treat the first patient. The team included oncologists, radiologists, dosimetrists, radiographers and nurses and other dedicated members of the radiotherapy team at SaTH.

Approval for the use of SABR at SaTH was given the go-ahead earlier this year and one patient has now successfully received a course of SABR treatment with minimal side effects.

Louise Killey, Radiotherapy Services Manager at SaTH, said: “In radiotherapy we always have to allow a margin around a tumour because of patients moving. Radiation damages both cancerous and healthy cells so if we can reduce the area being treated then it can help with both the short-term and long-term side effects.

“With SABR the treatment concentrates on reducing the margins and we can treat just the tumour and less healthy tissue.”

Louise added that SABR can only treat early-stage lung tumours, so it was important that if people had any concerns that they sought help.

She said: “I can only stress the importance of visiting your GP or getting help if you have any health concerns. The earlier we find a cancer the more likely we are able to cure patients.”

Her message comes during November which is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. The aim of the campaign is to encourage people displaying the common symptoms of lung cancer, such as a persistent cough, breathlessness or unexplained weight-loss, to visit their GP.

The team at SaTH is hoping in the future that SABR treatment can also be used on other areas of the body.