First patient treated with innovative and lifesaving radiotherapy in Sussex

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Peter Tuppen

Peter Tuppen, 78, from Peacehaven, has become the first patient in Sussex to be treated with a new highly precise type of cancer treatment called stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR). 

SABR uses multiple slender beams of radiation which are carefully directed from different angles to meet at the tumour. Sophisticated image guidance technology takes account of breathing motion in order to ensure that these beams are targeted with great accuracy. This allows higher doses of radiation to be safely delivered at each treatment session thereby cutting the number of hospital visits that potentially vulnerable cancer patients need to make.

Peter was treated at the Sussex Cancer Centre, University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust, in July 2021, as part of the fast-track national rollout of the treatment during Covid-19.

His wife of 42 years, Helen Tuppen, said: “When Peter was diagnosed with a tumour in his lung this spring, we were initially told he’d have to travel to London for the SABR treatment, which would have been really difficult as he suffered a stroke a few years ago that has impacted his mobility.

“We were very grateful to learn that not only were they offering the treatment locally in Brighton, but also that he would be the first patient.”

The grandfather of seven and great-grandfather of three needed just five sessions over a week and a half, compared to conventional radiotherapy that usually needs 20 to 30 treatments.

Dr Juliet Brock, consultant clinical oncologist, said: “It’s been a tremendous team effort to set up the service as part of the national initiative and provide this specialised and effective treatment to cancer patients across Sussex.”

Helen added: “He finished his treatment at the end of July and is now at home recovering and looking forward to spending time with family. We are so thankful for the amazing care he received. “He is tired, but doing well, and will be followed up in a couple of months to see how the treatment has worked.”

The rollout at University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust is initially aimed at treating patients with non-small cell lung cancers and will be extended to include other cancers in the future.