SBRT Offers Curative Option for Lung Cancer Patients Age 80 and Older

According to research presented at the recent Multidisciplinary Thoracic Cancers Symposium, patients in their eighties and nineties who have early stage lung cancer but cannot undergo an operation can be treated safely and effectively with stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT).  The advanced form of radiation therapy was well tolerated among this relatively understudied elderly population, indicating that SBRT is a viable option for patients who may otherwise be offered no curative treatment.

The symposium, which was held March 16-18 in San Francisco and was co-sponsored by the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS), featured the latest advances in surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and novel molecular biologic therapies for thoracic malignancies such as lung cancer.

“While multiple studies and trials have established the effectiveness of SBRT for inoperable early-stage lung cancer, one of the common reasons for not giving radiation in older patients is concern about tolerating the treatment and potential side effects,” said Richard J. Cassidy III, MD, lead author of the study.  “The low rates of side effects from SBRT for this elderly population in our study indicate that these concerns should not prevent physicians from considering definitive treatment for their inoperable octogenarian and nonagenarian patients with early stage lung cancer.”

At New Jersey CyberKnife, eligible patients diagnosed with lung cancer, or inoperable lung tumors, are treated with SBRT using the CyberKnife® Robotic Radiosurgery System.  CyberKnife is a painless, nonsurgical outpatient cancer treatment with minimal to no side effects.  During the CyberKnife treatment, hundreds of highly concentrated and incredibly precise beams of radiation are targeted directly to tumors and lesions in the lung.  As the patient breathes during the CyberKnife treatment, the CyberKnife robotic arm moves with the rise and fall of his/her body – meaning that healthy tissue is protected from radiation and only the tumor is treated.  Patients complete SBRT treatment in three to five days, compared with several weeks for conventional radiation therapy.

To learn more about how New Jersey CyberKnife treats lung cancer, please click here.