A man who was Mayor of the former Castle Morpeth borough is the first cancer patient in the North East to be treated using a ground-breaking form of radiotherapy.
Those with secondary cancers (oligometastatic disease) are now starting to benefit from the precise Stereotactic Ablative Radiotherapy (SABR) technology at the Freeman Hospital’s Northern Centre for Cancer Care (NCCC).
The aim of SABR is to completely destroy, or ablate, the tumour, reduce pain or other symptoms and prevent further spread of cancer or delay the need for chemotherapy or hormone therapy, and the high degree of accuracy of the treatment minimises damage to surrounding healthy tissue.
The first patient in the North East to be treated using SABR under the new national initiative is Geoff Proudlock.
As well as being a Castle Morpeth councillor and Mayor of the then borough in 2006/07, he is an Alderman of Northumberland and a long-standing Morpeth Chamber of Trade member.
The 72-year-old grandfather, who runs a family business with his daughter in Alnwick, has now had SABR treatment for secondary tumours in both lungs.
He said: “I was found to have bowel cancer some four years ago after an endoscopy to investigate a bit of bleeding I was having. I had surgery three weeks later at Wansbeck General Hospital which was, as far as we knew, successful.
“Then, two years later a CT scan picked up a small tumour in one of my lungs. I saw an oncologist who referred me to one of the cardiothoracic surgeons at the Freeman Hospital and he removed a lobe from the lung. It all seemed to have gone well, and then we found these two further tumours.”
As he has a tumour in each lung, like many other patients with secondary cancer he cannot be treated surgically and so he was referred to the NCCC to be considered for SABR.
Mr Proudlock added: “I’ve had the most fantastic care treatment from everyone involved at both the Freeman and Wansbeck Hospitals. I was already aware of the new SABR as my wife had been researching the latest treatments, but it was only previously available in London.
“I’m very pleased that it has made its way up to the North East and to be able to take part in the new programme. So far I feel fine, if a little more breathless than usual, but I enjoy a good round of golf and am of a certain age, so that’s to be expected I suppose.”
He will need to be monitored regularly to keep an eye on his condition, including a follow-up CT scan in six months’ time, to see how effective the SABR has been. Radiotherapy itself can cause some degree of swelling, so it is best to wait for this length of time in order to accurately assess whether the tumour has stopped growing or shrunk.
Bringing this technology to the North East was made possible thanks to a special collaboration between the Newcastle-upon-Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and charities the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, Charlie Bear for Cancer Care and the Newcastle Healthcare Charity.