SABR for prostate cancer treatment
Advanced radiotherapy in just five sessions for men with low- to intermediate-risk localised prostate cancer
Leading-edge prostate cancer treatment
Stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR) is a specialist technique that can treat tumours safely and effectively, with minimal damage to surrounding healthy tissue.
We offer SABR for men with low- to intermediate-risk localised prostate cancer and some selected high-risk cases in just five sessions over five alternate days – instead of the conventional 20 or 39 sessions over many weeks. This is known as five-fraction SABR or 5# SABR, and is delivered by a team of leading experts using our state-of-the-art linacs (radiotherapy machines) at our outpatient centres in Bristol, Birmingham, Nottingham, Maidstone, Cambridge, Chelmsford, Elstree, London and Oxford.
Our patients are at the heart of what we do, and we work with teams of leading cancer experts to introduce the latest evidence-based treatments from around the world that have been proven to make a difference. We have introduced this approach after carefully reviewing clinical research that shows this approach doesn’t increase short-term side effects when compared with the longer 20 or 39 session radiotherapy schedules.
Where can I get five-fraction SABR?
A world-class service
Five-fraction SABR is available as part of our world-class SABR service. Also known as stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), SABR involves the use of advanced technology to deliver a beam of radiation to a tumour, killing cancer cells within it. SABR is often used as a cancer treatment for localised tumours (where the cancer is only found in the tissues where it started) and to delay the growth of secondary cancers (where the cancer has spread to other tissues in the body).
This treatment can be used as an alternative to surgery and is given on an outpatient basis, with no anaesthetic or overnight stay required so you can avoid a hospital stay or long waiting times.
Having the option of a shorter treatment schedule compared to conventional radiotherapy helps you get back to your normal life as soon as possible, with minimal disruption. This is also particularly beneficial if you’re worried about travelling to appointments during the COVID-19 pandemic. Find out more about how we’re keeping our patients and staff COVID-safe in our centres
Before you begin treatment, you may have a rectal spacer inserted between your bowel and prostate in a simple, one-off procedure performed under local anaesthetic. This is an absorbable device that helps protect surrounding healthy tissues and reduce side effects from prostate radiotherapy. Patient safety is our priority, which is why this is offered at no extra cost as part of your treatment.
If you’re having five-fraction SABR at our Oxford or London site on the MRIdian MR linac, then you won’t need a spacer insertion. This is because the MRIdian is an advanced radiotherapy technology that combines high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanning techniques with extremely powerful radiotherapy beams, so your team can see the tumour during treatment, making it highly accurate. Having radiotherapy on the MRIdian may be suitable for you if your prostate is not too large, your urinary symptoms are not particularly troublesome and you don’t have any metal in your body, such as a pacemaker. Find out more about this non-invasive treatment option.
A network of specialists
Five-fraction SABR for localised prostate cancer is offered by a team of specialists highly experienced in delivering this technique. We have a robust approach to patient selection, making sure that all treatment offered is based on international medical best practice. A panel of expert clinical oncologists, our Urology SABR advisory team (USAT), will review your case to ensure this is the best treatment option for you. By combining this expertise with leading-edge technology, we offer exceptional care and a treatment plan that is tailored to your needs.
What’s different about SABR?
Conventional radiotherapy aimed at tumour eradication often involves treatment of both the visible tumour and also surrounding tissues, in order to deal effectively with all the cancer that may be located in and around the prostate. Treatment usually involves 20 sessions over several weeks, and may be combined with chemotherapy, whereas this form of radiotherapy may be used on its own safely and effectively, in fewer treatment sessions.
A more convenient treatment option
SABR is a non-invasive treatment that targets just the cancer that can be seen. In contrast to conventional radiotherapy, SABR uses much more focussed beams of radiation and offers substantially shorter treatment courses.
Side effects are usually mild, and many people experience no side effects at all. The radiation dose is often higher than it is with conventional radiotherapy therefore, the likelihood of tumour control is very good.
What does SABR involve?
Your treatment will involve an initial appointment with a GenesisCare Consultant Oncologist who has the appropriate experience, either in person or via a secure video consultation. You’ll then need to attend one of our SABR centres for a radiotherapy planning scan, which is used to plan the treatment delivery.
Your treatment will be delivered in five sessions over five alternate days. You may have a rectal spacer inserted between your bowel and prostate to help protect surrounding healthy tissues and reduce side effects from prostate radiotherapy. Find out more about what to expect throughout your SABR treatment.
If you’re interested in knowing more about five-fraction SABR on the MRIdian MR linac at our centres in Oxford and London find out more about MRI-guided radiotherapy on the MRIdian here.
Is it for me?
This treatment is for men with localised prostate cancer that is low- or intermediate-risk and if your cancer hasn’t spread to other nearby tissues or organs, such as the bladder or pelvic wall, or anywhere else in your body.
Your GenesisCare Consultant Oncologist will discuss your diagnosis, treatments to date and overall health with a multidisciplinary team of SABR and MRIdian specialists. Together, they’ll decide if this treatment is right for you. Your consultant will explain the treatment plan to you, including any side effects you might experience and the outcome we can expect to achieve. You’ll have time to ask questions before you decide whether you want to proceed.
What about side effects?
As with any cancer treatment, you may experience side effects. Your consultant will discuss with you which of these are more likely to affect you.
Short-term side effects
You may experience the following during your treatment course, but they will usually disappear within three to four weeks:
- Pain on passing urine
- Needing to pass urine urgently
- Loose and frequent bowel movements
- Feeling tired
Long-term side effects
These may last years and include difficulty getting or maintaining an erection. Rarely, you may experience narrowing of the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of your body, making it difficult to pass urine or persistent bleeding from your back passage.
Your care team can advise you on the best way to deal with side effects and will be available during and after treatment should you have any questions. It’s important that you attend your follow-up appointments so we can identify and treat any problems as soon as possible.
As individuals, we all experience side effects differently. Take rest when you feel you need to and, when possible, try to continue with your daily exercise or any work that you’re currently doing.