Lung Cancer is a life threatening disease. While lung cancer often strikes those with a history of tobacco use, it can strike anyone. There is a lot of research trying to determine the best course of treatment. Most compare surgical removal of the affected lung with use of chemotherapy and/or with use of radiation therapy. What we do know is that different stages of the disease respond to different treatments. We do know that advanced disease may require all 3 types of treatment, while early stage disease may require just one. With all of this research, why don’t doctors do the same thing for every patient?
WHAT YOU CAN DO
What researchers are not able to quantify, is the individual human being. There too many variables as to the individuals personal habits, other health issues, and family history. This is why research cannot always be certain, but should be used as a tool. Your physician needs to use it as a tool to help you; the individual person. You need to ask the questions and help make the best decisions for your own life.
WHAT YOUR DR. KNOWS
In 2017, the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology(ASCO) recommended the use of Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) alone to treat early stage lung cancer. And upon reviewing some new research by Chad Rusthoven, MD on early stage lung cancer, Charles Bankhead of MedPage Today concluded that “Patients show significantly better overall survival at 3 years with SBRT and numerically superior recurrence-free survival.”
This is great news! People with early stage lung cancer will live longer if treated with SBRT instead of traditional open surgery. So now every physician is going to do this right? Well, now it is up to the patient to not only ask for radiation treatment, but to ask for the right one.
NOT ALL TREATMENTS ARE EQUAL
What equipment is used to deliver the SBRT has a huge effect on the patient’s Quality of Life. Not all SBRT treatments are the same. There are a few different systems used to deliver the radiation to the lung. Selecting the right one is important and research does not always account for Quality of Life or side effects. Is treatment uncomfortable? Do I have to hold my breath? What is life like after treatment? Will I have the energy to do things? Will I be coughing all the time? Can I enjoy the life I have left?
SBRT treatment with the CyberKnife System drastically reduces side effects. It is the ONLY treatment delivery system that uses real time imaging while giving the patient over 300 beams of radiation. It is the ONLY treatment that actually breathes (moves) with the patient to target only the cancerous lung tumor. The patient does not need to hold their breath, but can breathe naturally during the short treatments. This one of a kind treatment reduces those side effects while it kills the cancer. Therefore it damages less healthy tissue than other types of radiation.
Charles B. Simone II, MD of the University of Maryland Medical Center concluded his study and learned that, “(SBRT) has emerged as the standard of care for patients with medically inoperable lung cancer.”
Lung Cancer treated with stereotactic body radiation therapy(SBRT) has been proven to be the standard of care, but treatment with the CyberKnife Treatment System has been proven to improve Quality of Life as well.