Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy: What You Need To Know

Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy: An Overview and Its Types

Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) is a method used in cancer treatment that aims at targeting tumors with high doses of radiation to destroy cancer cells while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

There are two primary types of SBRT:

  • CyberKnife
  • TrueBeam

Both utilize computer-guided technology to achieve precision in treatment.

CyberKnife delivers radiation from multiple angles, utilizing thin beams of radiation akin to surgical blades. The mechanism allows for the machine to move around the patient during treatment, ensuring doses are delivered with precision.

On the other hand, TrueBeam integrates imaging and radiotherapy delivery into a single system, which may reduce the duration of clinic visits and potentially enhance the accuracy of treatment.

Both methods represent non-invasive options for treating cancer in patients who are either unable to undergo surgery or possess tumors that are difficult to access.

Applications and Risks of Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy

Stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) targets tumors with high-dose radiation, offering a high level of precision. This accuracy helps to minimize damage to healthy tissue surrounding the tumor. It is primarily used in the treatment of early-stage lung cancer, liver cancer, and prostate cancer.

Despite its precision, SBRT presents risks. Side effects may include fatigue and skin issues in the treated area. The specific side effects experienced can depend on the treatment location. For example, treatments aimed at lung cancer may result in coughing or shortness of breath.

In rare instances, SBRT could lead to severe complications such as organ damage or the development of secondary cancers due to radiation exposure. It is acknowledged that risk is inherent in every medical procedure.

Preparation and Expectations for SBRT Procedure

Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) is a non-invasive cancer treatment that targets tumors with high-dose radiation beams from multiple angles.

  • Preparation for SBRT: A planning session, known as simulation, is conducted where medical professionals use CT scans to determine the exact location of the tumor. Body molds or masks may be utilized to maintain patient stillness during treatment. The treatment plan is individualized based on these images.

  • Expectations during SBRT procedure: The duration of treatments typically spans five days or less, though this can vary. Each session lasts approximately 15-30 minutes and involves no pain, though stillness is required. A machine circulates around the patient, directing radiation at the tumor site without making incisions.

Following the completion of the sessions, routine follow-ups are conducted to assess the body's response to therapy. Responses to treatments can differ among individuals.

Post-treatment Care and Understanding Results of SBRT

Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy (SBRT) delivers high doses of radiation to cancer cells while minimizing exposure to surrounding healthy tissue. Common side effects include:

  • Fatigue
  • Skin changes
  • Temporary discomfort in the treatment area

Follow-up appointments after SBRT are used to monitor recovery and assess the effectiveness of the treatment. It is important for the continuation of care.

Understanding results from SBRT involves reviewing medical imaging scans such as CT or MRI. These images are compared with previous scans to determine if the tumor has shrunk or stopped growing, which helps in ascertaining the success of SBRT in controlling the disease.

The experience with SBRT can vary, as factors like overall health, type, and location of cancer influence individual outcomes.

Role of Imaging and Positioning in SBRT

Imaging and positioning are crucial components in Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT), a cancer treatment method that delivers high doses of radiation to tumors with a high degree of precision, aiming to target the tumor while sparing surrounding healthy tissue.

For precise targeting, advanced imaging techniques such as CT scans, MRIs, or PET scans are utilized before and during the treatment process. These images are instrumental in guiding the delivery of radiation to the exact locations needed.

Positioning is equally important in SBRT. Patients are carefully positioned on a special table during treatment sessions to ensure that radiation beams hit the target from optimal angles, thereby minimizing harm to nearby healthy tissues.

In summary, imaging and positioning are integral to the effective targeting of tumors in SBRT, aiming to achieve the goals of the treatment with minimal side effects.