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News and Featured Stories - St Vincent's Medical Center
Published: 05/09/2012

Advanced Technology For Lung Cancer: 

lung treatment technologyStereotactic Radiosurgery for Early Stage Lung Cancer

St. Vincent’s Elizabeth M. Pfriem Center for Radiation Therapy is now offering patients a new non-invasive option for early stage lung cancer referred to as stereotactic body radiation therapy or SBRT (equivalent to the cyberknife).

Radiosurgery refers to the precise delivery of high doses of radiation therapy to small regions with pinpoint accuracy. This technology is similar to that developed for the treatment of brain tumors, which has been in use for decades. The use of the Novalis Tx™ Radiosurgery linear accelerator and RapidArc® at St. Vincent’s has expanded to treatment of tumors located in the lung, where precision targeting with minimal damage to the surrounding non-cancerous lung tissue is essential.

The Novalis Tx™ effectively targets tumors and offers patients the potential for cure using a less invasive approach than surgery and a less cumbersome approach than standard radiation therapy. There is no cutting and no need for the placement of markers, thus making it completely non-invasive. Multiple preliminary studies show it is safe, effective and as reliable as seven to eight weeks of standard radiation therapy.

SBRT stereotactic body radiation therapyAs one of the most advanced stereotactic (positioned in three-dimensional space) radiosurgery approaches available today, the Novalis Tx™ delivers treatment painlessly in treatment sessions lasting approximately 30-45 minutes, depending on the particular situation.

The treatment is performed in an outpatient setting, resulting in greater patient comfort and less body or tumor movement ensuring the highest possible accuracy. It is effective for both cancerous and non-cancerous conditions and requires no incision. In fact, SBRT is “surgical” only in the sense that the beam quickly shrinks the tumor with surgical precision.

Candidates for SBRT with the Novalis Tx™ are patients with small lung cancers who are deemed medically inoperable (longtime smokers and those whose breathing capacity has weakened or whose lungs are in poor condition). Normally, these individuals would be unable to tolerate any kind of surgical procedure, but the Novalis Tx™ provides another treatment option.

Patients require a planning session where a special body mold is custom designed and then treatment is delivered once per week for a total of three to five sessions. At a multi-disciplinary conference, specialists from a number of disciplines review the case and develop the most effective treatment plan possible for the patient. 

The treatment of tumors with higher doses in fewer sessions is a trend in radiation oncology that is likely to continue as it is proving to be equal or better than more traditional methods. St. Vincent’s team is focused on offering patients the latest technology within a healing environment, and SBRT for lung cancer is a prime example of that commitment.

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