Leeds cancer centre staff celebrate milestone of over 500 patients undergoing pioneering high-tech lung cancer treatment

3 October 2013

St James’s University Hospital in Leeds has cemented its role as the leading centre in the UK undertaking highly advanced Stereotactic Ablative Body Radiotherapy (SABR), with staff having now treated over 500 patients using the technique.

SABR benefits patients with potentially curable lung cancer for whom conventional surgery is too risky. By far the largest number of treatments in the UK take place at St James’s, and patients from across the country travel to Leeds for this specialist treatment, many staying at the hospital’s comfortable patient hotel during their treatment.

The success of the Leeds SABR programme has been in large part thanks to the equipment available at the hospital’s Bexley Wing. The team use one of two highly advanced research linear accelerators, originally funded through the Yorkshire Cancer Centre Appeal, which can deliver more targeted treatment in fewer sessions.

The team in Leeds can deliver the same radiation dose in 3-8 treatments compared with 20-30 treatments using more conventional technology. This more than doubles the cancer control rates to over 90%, with the advantage of fewer visits to hospital and less side effects

Dr Kevin Franks, Consultant in Clinical Oncology – who spent two years in Canada performing lung SABR research before moving to Leeds to launch the treatment in Yorkshire – said:

Lung cancer is responsible for 1 in 7 new cases of cancer and is responsible for more than one in five of all cancer deaths, so this is a very important programme which is now benefitting patients from Yorkshire and right across the UK.

The success of the Leeds programme and the increasing numbers of patients being referred here from all across the country, is testament to the extremely high level of commitment by a team of specialist staff helping to deliver this care here at St James’s.

These include clinical oncologists, therapy radiographers, medical physicists, radiotherapy technologists and treatment planning dosimetrists. Achieving the milestone of 500 patients is a great achievement and something for all of us to celebrate.

More background on the SABR technique

  • Four-dimensional Computerised Tomography is used during the planning procedure which allows the tumour motion due to breathing to be seen and quantified accurately.
  • Multiple small radiotherapy beams are often used, all focused on the tumour (7-9 beams are deployed rather than 3-4 in normal lung radiotherapy). Lately it has been possible to replace these multiple beams with a single field continuously rotating around the tumour and which allows treatment to be delivered far more rapidly
  • CT images are obtained on the treatment table prior to, during and at the end of the procedure to ensure the treatment is targeted to an accuracy of 2-3mm.
  • Lung SABR relies on a wide range of expertise from clinical staff within the Bexley Wing working together to plan and deliver the treatment. These include medical physics staff, radiographers and technologists as well as cancer consultants.
  • Leeds Teaching Hospital leads the UK with Lung SABR development treating over half of all the lung SABR treatments in the UK as a whole, with referrals from as far afield as Northern Ireland, Scotland and Devon.

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