Stereotactic Radiation Therapy

Stereotactic radiation therapy is an advanced technique used to treat small tumours with well-defined edges, commonly located in the brain, spine or lung.

What is stereotactic radiation therapy?

Stereotactic radiation therapy (SRT) is also referred to as stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) or stereotactic ablative radiation therapy (SABR). It is an advanced technique used to treat small, well defined tumours or high risk postoperative areas. It can be used to treat both primary and metastatic tumours (sometimes referred to as secondary tumours).

Stereotactic radiation therapy can be used to treat tumours in the brain, spine, bones, liver and lung. The technology allows a high dose of radiation to be delivered to the tumour very precisely, without compromising surrounding healthy organs due to the ability to treat with sub millimetre accuracy. Due to the larger daily doses of radiation delivered to patients with stereotactic radiation therapy, treatments can be completed within a single treatment, or multiple treatments spanning over 2-10 days. Each daily treatment usually takes no longer than 20 minutes.

Brain cancers

Stereotactic radiation therapy is most commonly used to treat secondary tumours in the brain. Stereotactic radiation therapy is also used to treat some benign (non-cancerous) tumours such as meningiomas, pituitary adenomas and acoustic neuromas as well as some blood vessel conditions such as arteriovenous malformations.

Stereotactic radiation therapy for the brain will involve the making of a customised mask that will be used during treatment to ensure the patient’s head does not move during treatment allowing the machine to precisely target the tumour.

Compared to traditional radiation therapy for metastatic disease to the brain which involves treating the entire brain, stereotactic radiation therapy only targets the individual metastatic tumours with high doses. This provides less radiation to healthy brain tissue, reduces the chance of adverse intellectual and cognitive function, reduces the impact of side effects (e.g. hair loss and headaches) and improves quality of life for patients.

Lung cancers

Stereotactic radiation therapy to the lung is most commonly used to treat early stage primary lung cancer or metastatic tumours that have spread from other organs in the body.

Stereotactic radiation therapy for lung cancer involves the use of specialised equipment to ensure the accurate representation of your breathing motion. During your simulation or CT appointment, the radiation therapists will monitor and record your breathing pattern so that we can replicate it each day for treatment. By knowing exactly where the tumour moves during your breathing cycles, we can reduce the amount of healthy lung being irradiated by focusing and targeting the treatment beams precisely at the moving tumour.

Liver cancers

Stereotactic radiation therapy to the liver is most commonly used to treat primary liver tumours. However, it can also be used to treat secondary cancers in the liver where suitable.

Spine

Stereotactic radiation therapy to the spine is used to treat metastatic tumours that have spread from other organs in the body to the vertebrae. Your clinical oncologist will use both your MRI scan and planning CT scan to a very high level of accuracy.

Given the proximity of the vertebrae bodies to the spinal cord, we use highly specialised immobilisation devices – ensuring patients remain in the exact same position during each treatment, state-of-the-art delivery techniques and pre-treatment CT scans to ensure that treatment every day is pinpoint accurate.

Bones

Stereotactic radiation therapy can be used to treat tumours that have spread to bones within the body. Depending on which bone we are looking to treat, your clinical oncologist and radiation therapists will develop and customise a treatment technique that is personalised to your needs.

Oligometastatic disease

Stereotactic radiation therapy can be used to treat oligometastatic disease. Oligometastatic disease means the number of metastatic tumours is limited, without extensive spread. Oligometastatic disease may be treated with stereotactic radiation therapy with the aim of improving tumour control and increasing good patient outcomes.

Treatment technology, coupled with advanced imaging techniques, like a PET/CT scan, can be a powerful tool to clearly identify and accurately target these small tumours that might otherwise go undetected. Our clinical oncologists will be able to advise you if this treatment option is available and recommended for you.

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