Focused Radiation Offers New Hope for Lung Cancer Patients
Lung cancer patients with small tumors may soon find a whole new treatment option open to them. A recent small-scale clinical trial showed that the application of focused radiation treatments in earlier stages of lung cancer could be as effective – if not more so – than riskier surgical procedures.
Focused radiation involves the application of a short-course targeted type of radiation that is designed to eliminate cancer cells while sparing nearby tissue. The procedure involves rather rapid treatments over consecutive days and does not require anesthesia or incisions. The benefits also include elimination of the risks that go hand-in-hand with traditional surgery meant to treat lung cancer tumors.
A small-scale clinical was recently conducted using the technique known as sterotactic ablative radiotherapy, or SABR. The treatment uses a robotic arm to increase precision and enables doctors to deliver radiation from multiple angles with a high level of accuracy. The end results of the study showed that this form of radiation is as good as common surgery for treating early-stage lung cancers.
The study involved 58 patients. Of that group, 31 patients had their tumors treated with the SABR technique. After three years, 30 of the 31 patients were still alive. In the surgical group, only 21 of 27 patients survived that long. The recurrence rate between the two groups was the same.
Although the clinical trial produced promising results, the jury is still out on the widespread application of this procedure. Larger clinical trials are still needed before the use of SABR goes widespread. Should the procedure continue to hold up to clinical scrutiny it could change the face of early-stage lung cancer treatment. Lung cancer is considered one of the fastest growing cancers in the United States with nearly half of all patients dying within a year of diagnosis. By eliminating the need for surgery, SABR may help increase cancer patients’ odds of survival while enabling them to enjoy a higher quality of life while enduring treatments.