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SBRT Radiation Highly Effective in Early-Stage Lung Cancer

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A high-tech type of radiation treatment called stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) has been demonstrated to be a "highly effective" treatment in early-stage lung cancer for patients who are not eligible for surgery, according to a study co-authored by a physician at the University of Kentucky's Markey Cancer Center.

The treatment uses very large doses of high-energy radiation (x-rays) aimed directly at tumors with great precision and accuracy, thus sparing the surrounding, healthy tissue from damage. The process has been compared to "painting" with radiation.

Dr. Ronald McGarry, clinical associate professor and vice chairman of radiation medicine at the UK College of Medicine, says SBRT is becoming the new standard of treatment for early-stage lung cancers that cannot be treated surgically.

"I think of this as 'lung-sparing' treatment, in which many patients with early-stage lung cancer can have effective treatment in as few as three treatment sessions with a low risk of side effects," McGarry said. "The data we are reporting now show that long-term control of these localized cancers is possible."

The prospective Phase 2 study looked at 50-month results for 70 medically inoperable patients at Indiana University with confirmed stage T1 or T2 non-small-cell lung carcinoma who had undergone treatment with SBRT. In these patients, most of whom had other significant health problems, median survival was 32.4 months, which compares favorably to the established median survival of only about nine months for untreated early-stage lung cancer. Nearly 90 percent of patients had no evidence their cancer returned in the lung.

While this study was restricted to patients who were not eligible for surgery, the results of SBRT are comparable to those of surgery for early lung cancer. SBRT has already shown promise in early studies for the treatment of prostate cancer. McGarry says these results indicate that SBRT could one day become an effective alternative to surgery for lung carcinoma and other cancers that have not spread.

"Lung cancer is our number one cancer killer and non-invasive treatment for those patients with severe heart and lung disease opens new opportunities to help them," McGarry said. "These long-term results are so promising, we now have a national clinical trial open at the University of Kentucky sponsored by the National Cancer Institute to see if otherwise healthy people with localized lung cancer could benefit too."

The study was made available online Feb. 27 and is to be published in a forthcoming edition of The International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics.

University of Kentucky

102A Mathews Bldg.


KY 40506-0047

United States


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(Medical News Today, Lung Cancer, Radiology/Nuclear Medicine; Clinical Trials/Drug Trials, April 4, 2009)


The information contained in these articles may or may not be in agreement with my own opinions. They are not being posted with the intention of being medical advice of any kind.

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