A new state-of-the-art radiotherapy treatment for cancer patients at The James Cook University Hospital has won a national efficiency award.
The technique called stereotactic ablative body radiotherapy – or SABR – uses the latest developments in radiotherapy technology from Elekta to deliver very high doses of radiation to tumours in the chest with millimetre precision.
By maximising the dose to the tumour, the risk of damaging surrounding normal tissues in minimised, increasing cure rates for patients as well as reducing side effects.
Treatment times for some patients undergoing radiotherapy have also been reduced by up to a fifth.
Now the team has picked up the prize for efficiency in medical technology at the Health Service Journal (HSJ) Efficiency Awards in London.
Clinical lead for the SABR programme, Dr Clive Peedell, said: “We’re delighted to receive this award. This is an exciting new field in radiotherapy and Middlesbrough is one of the leading centres in the UK.
“We can now deliver extremely high doses of radiation to tumours in the chest with very high precision. Local control of tumours is achieved in over 95% and side effects are minimal.
As well as being more effective than conventional radiotherapy, SABR is also much more convenient for patients as it requires fewer visits. It is typically delivered in three to five treatments compared to the 20-30 treatments of conventional radiotherapy.
“Even very frail patients can tolerate the treatment and this is a big breakthrough in the management of early stage lung cancer.”
At present, SABR is only used to treat early lung cancers in patients who are not well enough to undergo a major operation, but as the technique develops it will be used to treat localised tumours in liver, kidney, bones and prostate.
The trust won the award for their project, Implementing Stereotactic Ablative Radiotherapy (SABR) for management of medically inoperable early stage lung cancer with the judging panel commenting: “There have been significant benefits in delivering improved quality with a substantial reduction in cost to the health system. The project has a strong patient centred approach and is comprehensive enough replicate in other hospitals across the NHS.”
Nick Golding, news editor of HSJ, said: “The NHS’s funding is broadly flat but the demands on it are increasing rapidly – unless the health service makes changes it will be overwhelmed by the challenges it faces.
“Projects such as South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s help safeguard the future of the NHS, ensuring its resources are used to their full potential, helping to make savings in a way which enhances, rather than damages, patient care.
“The projects honoured in this year’s HSJ Efficiency Awards can inspire NHS organisations elsewhere, helping to safeguard patient care by enabling the health service to make the best use of its limited resources at all levels of the health service across the country.”