Non-invasive advances for treating early stage non small cell lung cancer

March 25, 2013 Vivek K. Mehta, MD

Stereotactic Ablative Radiotherapy is a new term that has been coined to describe the delivery of very high doses of radiation delivered over a handful of treatment sessions. This precise method targets small tumors located in the lung. This new treatment has been pioneered and studied extensively in patients who are not suitable candidates for an operation but have been diagnosed with early stage Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer.

The advantages of this approach are that the treatment can be completed in 1-2 weeks (including the planning time), and only requires 3-5 treatments. The treatment requires highly specialized planning and preparation and is delivered using state of the art linear accelerators like the CyberKnife®. Our team has been offering stereotactic ablative radiotherapy for over 4 years.

The results are outstanding for this population of patients. A number of studies have demonstrated that the local tumor control rates exceed 85% at 2 years. The incidence of serious complications, such as chest wall pain, rib fracture and lung injury is less than 5%.

These dramatic results have led many in the country to evaluate offering this approach to more patients, and even to patients who can undergo an operation. This will be the subject for future study, of which the Swedish Cancer Institute will participate.

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