PINEHURST – For almost a year now, a piece of equipment with the intimidating name of the Trilogy Stereotactic Linear Accelerator has provided a previously unavailable treatment option for patients with brain tumors .
With the addition of advanced cone beam CT (computed tomography) technology, the same precisely focused radiation therapy is now being used to deliver stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) to certain patients with Stage 1 lung cancer. Candidates for this treatment were previously referred to large teaching institutions or urban hospitals.
“A lot of people who once had to travel to Duke or UNC or Carolinas Medical Center will be served by this technology,” says Stephen C. King, M.D., a radiation oncologist at Moore Regional.
According to Dr. King, the patients most likely to be candidates for the lung cancer procedure are older lifetime smokers whose condition puts them at high risk for surgery, the traditional “gold standard” for lung cancer treatment.
“These patients have poor lung function or have other issues that would make it very risky to do surgery,” he says.
During SBRT procedures, physicians use computers and advanced images to position the patient so they can precisely target the high-dose radiation generated by the linear accelerator. Because the powerful radiation beam is focused with such accuracy on such a small area, neighboring healthy tissue is spared.
“This allows us to use significantly higher doses of radiation aimed directly at the cancer,” Dr. King says.
With conventional therapy, radiation is delivered in relatively small daily doses for 30 treatments five days a week over six weeks. With SBRT, physicians can deliver a higher radiation dose in far fewer treatments (three to five visits over two weeks) with better results.
“These new technologies, including cone beam CT and advanced planning and positioning techniques, allow us to very precisely treat moving targets, like lung tumors,” says Dr. King.
Additional sites in the body will eventually be added to the list of cancers that can be treated with Moore Regional’s SBRT technology. The new equipment is comparable to advanced stereotactic radiation technologies such as CyberKnife or Gamma Knife.