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New Cancer Treatment Provided on Island

We are proud to announce a new treatment option for certain cancers.  Stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR), also known as stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), is an advanced, high-tech treatment recently added to the Centre's radiation therapy treatment options.

"Delivering SABR treatments has been a goal of the Centre's since the radiation unit opened in 2017", states Dr Chris Fosker, medical director at Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre.  "When Dr Patrick Murray, one of our radiation oncologists, joined the Centre in 2020, his extensive SABR background provided us with on-the-ground experience needed to move forward."

Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre already provided comprehensive cancer care in Bermuda, and those services expanded when the radiation therapy unit first provided SABR treatment to several patients last month.  

"Our clinical affiliation with Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center made the introduction of SABR possible even during a pandemic ", states Lynne Woolridge, chief executive officer at Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre.  "The specialist team at Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center in Boston provided training and support with the installation and set up of new equipment and were on hand virtually during the first few treatments to monitor and support our team in Bermuda."

“SBRT has revolutionized the way we treat many cancers,” said Daphne Haas-Kogan, MD, Chair, Department of Radiation Oncology at Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center. “We’re glad that our partnership with Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre can bring these leading-edge treatment options to Bermuda so patients can receive the best possible care near home.”

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SABR is a specialised type of external beam radiation that allows extremely precise delivery of high doses of radiation to small targets.  Typically treatment with this technique is completed in 3-5 treatments over the course of 1-2 weeks.  This is opposed to the daily standard external beam radiation treatment that is typically given over the course of multiple weeks.  This technique is currently being used in situations where treatment options have previously been limited.  

 


"An early diagnosis of lung cancer could be treated in just five (SABR) sessions rather than 20+ treatments through traditional radiation," says Dr Murray. "SABR also has the capacity to improve patient outcomes depending on the type of cancer."

When asked how many people per year will now be able to stay in Bermuda, close to family, now that  SABR is available on the island, Dr Murray said, "we have conservative estimates of treating ten patients a year currently.  But if lung screening formally commences, and as more medical colleagues are aware of our capabilities, then we see this technique taking up to 20-25% of our current practice."

SABR is not always the appropriate option for treatment.  The best use is in the early stages of cancer when the lesions are small.  When it can be used, it has a similar success rate as surgery.  It is not just for lung cancer but can be effective for kidney, liver, adrenal glands, and other cancers that spread to the lung. 

Currently, in Bermuda, SABR is being used to treat early-stage lung cancer, and solitary lung metastases (cancer that has spread from other sites into the lungs). As the team works to define pathways, set-up and specific equipment requirements, the service is expected to expand with treating cancer that has spread to the brain and bone within the next year.

In addition to radiation therapy, now including SABR, provided in clinical affiliation with Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center, Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre's diagnostic imaging department, with an onsite radiologist, offers mammograms, ultrasounds, breast and prostate biopsies and bone densitometry.  Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre's Equal Access Fund, supported by corporate and community donations, ensures that everyone who needs diagnostic imaging or radiation treatment has access regardless of whether a patient has health insurance. 

If you have any questions please email RTinfo@chc.bm

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