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Your Oncologist has advised that you would benefit from a course of SABR treatment to the lung. Stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR) can also be referred to as stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT).
Radiotherapy is the use of high energy x-rays to treat cancer. It destroys the cancer cells in the area that we are treating and aims to stop cancer cells growing by either shrinking the tumour or completely destroying it.
SABR is an effective way of giving focused radiotherapy to try to control the tumour whilst sparing normal healthy tissue by:
You will have radiotherapy in 3, 5 or 8 treatments on alternate days over a period of two weeks. The rest days between treatments allow for normal cells to recover and repair. We will make up for any bank holidays that occur during your treatment.
It is very important that you attend all of your radiotherapy appointments. If you are feeling unwell or think that you may be unable to attend for any other reason, please contact the radiotherapy department as soon as possible on: 01273 664901 as it may be important to have an urgent medical review.
Computer tomography planning scan
Your first appointment will be a CT scan, which will take around 30-40 mins. It may be necessary for you to have an injection of special dye known as contrast to make some areas show up better on the scan. The CT staff will let you know if you need this.
You will be asked to lie on your back with your arms up above your head holding onto handles. There will be cushions under your head, knees and feet. A small breathing monitoring device will be attached around your chest/abdomen which is linked to the CT scanner.
The aim is to find a position that is comfortable and reproducible for the treatment sessions, that can take up to 45 minutes to deliver. It is very important you let staff know if the position is too uncomfortable as adjustments can be made.
After the CT scan the radiographers will have to have make three permanent tattoo dots on your chest. These allow us to position you accurately during treatment They are about the size of a pinpoint, but are permanent and are only made with your permission. If you are concerned by this please let the CT radiographers know and they can discuss other options with you.
If you are taking any medication, particularly for pain, please bring them with you to the hospital. Make sure you take your pain relief before the planning scan appointment as this will make it more comfortable when we position you for your scan.
Moulds and masks
As part of the CT scan process, depending where in your lung the tumour is may mean that a mould or mask may be required to help you stay still for the treatment.
The team will tell you more about this if a mould or mask is required.
Please report to radiotherapy reception when you arrive each day for treatment. On the first day the treatment radiographers will have a brief discussion with you and answer any questions which you may have.
You may need to remove some items of clothing and will then be asked to lie down on the treatment bed. The radiographers will position you carefully on the treatment couch, adjusting the height and position of the bed to align the marks on your skin.
We will also be making pen marks on your skin to monitor your position which will wash off. It is important for you to remain as still and relaxed as possible and to breathe normally.
When you are in the correct position the radiographers will leave the room. They will be watching on CCTV just outside the treatment room whilst they deliver the treatment. They can see you at all times so if there are any problems wave or call out and they can be back into the room very quickly. The radiographers will be in and out of the treatment room moving panels attached to the machine and adjusting the bed position but we want you to remain still and in position.
The radiographers will inform you when the treatment has been completed and you are able to move freely again.
The treatment will take between 30 and 45 minutes to complete.
Radiotherapy treatment is completely painless, you will not see or feel anything while it is being delivered.
Side effects can vary from patient to patient. Not everyone will experience all of the side effects but it is important you are aware of them.
If you are someone who smokes it is important to stop as this can increase the risk of side effects occurring. We can offer you help and support for smoking cessation. Please ask if this applies to you.
It is important to tell the radiographers how you are feeling when they ask, particularly if you feel symptoms worsen so we can get you the care that you need.
These side effects can occur up to 6 weeks after completion of your treatment. They are usually temporary and gradually resolve by themselves without intervention.
Skin reactions are uncommon but may occur where you are having treatment across your chest, it may look pink/red or darker and become dry and itchy.
To avoid developing a skin reaction:
Shortness of Breath and/or raised temperature
Please seek advice from the radiotherapy team or GP before using antibiotic medication.
Lung scarring / lung collapse
Continued chest wall pain/ rib fractures
Upper arm nerve damage (brachial plexopathy)
SABR specialist radiographer: Danielle Payne It is the role of the SABR specialist to support you throughout treatment and to give practical advice and information.
They will be your key worker and your main point of contact with the hospital. They can be reached by calling through to the reception number overleaf or via e-mail: UHSussexSABRsupport@nhs.net
Review Radiographer: Hetal Raval The review radiographer might see you or speak to you during or following treatment to discuss any side effects you may be experiencing and give you support and advice on how to manage these. They can be reached though radiotherapy reception.
Consultant clinical oncologist If you have questions relating to your medical care you can contact your consultant oncologist.
Dr. Juliet Brock
Dr. Anna Britten
Dr. Joanna Stokoe
Dr. Edward Chandy
They can be contacted through their medical secretary 01273 696955 Extension. 64601.
We are a teaching hospital and sometimes we may have students or other members of staff observing or taking part in your treatment. Please tell the treatment staff if you would prefer not to have an observer with you.
The radiotherapy treatment continues to work for weeks or months after treatment ends so your radiation oncologist won’t be able to tell you straightaway how the cancer is responding. However, they can help you manage any side effects.
After treatment finishes, you will have regular check-ups. Your radiation oncologist will do a physical examination and arrange tests or scans to check whether the cancer has responded to treatment. You may not know the full benefit of having radiation therapy for some months.
You will be reviewed 2 – 6 weeks after completing your treatment. This may be a telephone call initially at 2 weeks with our review radiographer and then a face to face appointment with your clinical oncologist at 4 – 6 weeks post treatment.
You will generally be seen at 3 monthly intervals for the first year after treatment and if all is well this will become less frequent over subsequent years.
To keep improving our radiotherapy services, audits are regularly carried out in the department. This may involve using patient notes. Any data collected will have all personal and identifiable details removed to ensure patient confidentiality. However, if this is unacceptable to you, and you would prefer that your notes are not seen, please let your consultant know and your wishes will be respected.
Clinical trials are undertaken within the department, which you may be eligible to take part in. If necessary and appropriate, your doctor will discuss this with you.
Useful contact numbers
Macmillan clinical nurse specialists:
Eastbourne and Hastings
Telephone: 01323 417400 Extension. 4617.
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If you need this information leaflet in another language or alternative format such as easy read, large print, audio or electronically please let us know using the contact details provided.
This information is intended for patients receiving care in Brighton & Hove or Haywards Heath.
The information in this leaflet is for guidance purposes only and is in no way intended to replace professional clinical advice by a qualified practitioner.
Publication Date: March 2022
Review Date: December 2024