Retired headmaster gets his radiotherapy delivered in just five days compared to over 7 weeks thanks to world-class team

Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy (SBRT) at the Arden Cancer CentreDavid Cobb from Stratford upon Avon was one of the first people to benefit from state-of-the-art radiotherapy that can be given in just five days compared to the normal 7.5 weeks.

The 77 year-old retired headmaster who taught at St Gabriel's in Newbury had radiotherapy in August 2016 for his prostate tumour using a new advanced machine which delivers Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy (SBRT) at the Arden Cancer Centre based at University Hospital in Coventry. He has now received PSA test results that indicate that he is in remission.

Radiotherapy is one of the most potent cancer treatments with around 40% of cancer cures involving radiotherapy.

David was treated with a new machine (Elekta Versa HD) that delivers concentrated high precision targeted SBRT over a quick delivery time. Images are taken immediately before treatment starts to allow for any adjustments to be made in positioning the radiotherapy target with the tumour. This aims to give assurance that the tumour is receiving the curative dose of radiotherapy and minimises any effects on the surrounding healthy tissue. This technology is not widely available in the UK.

This is just one of the new kinds of innovative radiotherapy available at University Hospital – others include: shaping the radiotherapy beams so that it moulds to the volume of tumour in 3-dimensions thereby minimising radiotherapy dose to normal tissue structures and delivering radiotherapy treatment much quicker using arc therapy (previous complex radiotherapy often took 25 mins and now can be delivered in 4-5 mins).

These world-class machines put the Arden Cancer Centre at the front line of cancer treatment advances and also allows us to treat some patients who previously would not have been able to be treated.

David, after receiving results that indicate that he is in remission, said: “I was very pleased to have this radiotherapy because it meant I was able to get it over and done within five days, and get on with my life. I found the service quick and efficient. I also cannot thank Dr Chan enough, my nurse Vicky Sturgess and all of the people who work behind the scenes to ensure patients like me get brilliant care. The staff were professional, good humoured and sympathetic.”

Radiotherapy Development Lead, Consultant Oncologist Dr Andrew Chan said: “We are very privileged to be at the forefront of cancer treatments since the new hospital opened just over 10 years ago. We have a fantastic and enthusiastic team who work hard to ensure cancer patients get world-class radiotherapy on their doorstep.”

The team are also at the forefront of international cancer research and are taking part in a study called PACE (Prostate Advances in Comparative Evidence) which compares the effectiveness of this type of radiotherapy David had – SBRT - against that of standard radiotherapy which is given over 7.5 weeks. The aim of the study is to show that this high-precision radiotherapy can offer men with localised prostate cancer outcomes equivalent to – or even better than – the standard treatment. It also means that travelling times and visits are substantially reduced so that patients can continue and return to their lifestyles much quicker.


Photo caption (left to right)
Andrew Chan (Consultant Clinical Oncologist), Vicky Sturgess (Research Radiographer), David Cobb