750 cancer patients’ hope

England rugby legend Lawrence Dallaglio
England rugby legend Lawrence Dallaglio

Sheffield Teaching Hospital has become one of the first centres in the country to be provided with new cutting-edge radiotherapy machines.

The NHS has invested £15m over three years to assess the use of stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR) - in a move it’s hoped could save hundreds of lives.

This follows a high-profile campaign, led by former-England rugby captain Lawrence Dallaglio, for changes to the way some cancers are treated. The campaign pushed to make SABR more widely available and 750 patients a year are now expected to access the machines, at 17 centres across the country.

Lawrence - who lost his own mum to cancer - told The Star: “I am delighted to see that hundreds of cancer patients will start their treatment with SABR in the coming months. Our task now is to ensure the success of this programme so that all those patients who should also be receiving this innovative radiotherapy are treated as soon as possible.”

Sean Duffy, National Clinical Director for Cancer at NHS England, agreed: “This is a great day for hundreds of cancer patients who will now be able to access this cutting-edge innovative treatment.”

SABR allows high doses of radiation to be delivered more precisely than conventional radiotherapy, causing less damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

Evidence has already shown its effectiveness when used to treat non-small cell lung cancer. The NHS will now work with the clinical and research community to fully assess its use against a range of other cancers.

Figures now show that more than one in three people in the UK will develop cancer in their lifetime and half will now live for at least ten years.

NHS chief executive, Simon Stevens, said: “We need more focus on prevention, earlier diagnosis and modern radiotherapy in order to save more lives.”