Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) is a technique for directing multiple beams of high dose radiation very precisely to a tumor, using coordinates provided by radiologic imaging. This non-invasive therapy delivers photon radiation from numerous angles to focus at one point, similar to a magnifying glass. It is used to treat tumors in the body, most commonly in the lung, liver, pancreas, head and neck region, and spine. The therapy generally involves 1–5 treatments (known as “fractions”) delivered via a high-tech radiation treatment machine called a linear accelerator (LINAC). Patient immobilization is critical for accurate targeting and reproducibility in each treatment.
By using a large number of unique beams that are precisely shaped to deliver the radiation to the tumor, stereotactic radiotherapy minimizes side effects by reducing the dose of radiation to normal organs around the tumor – as only some of the individual beams pass through healthy tissue. Precise targeting of the tumor is required, since the dose of radiation to that single point is so high. The very precise, high dose radiation with Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy has revolutionized the way we treat many cancers by greatly increasing the chances of eradicating the tumor while minimizing the risk of side effects.
For those seeking a more detailed technical description of SBRT modalities, the following describes techniques commonly performed at our institution:
Our team is constantly exploring innovative uses of advanced technologies to achieve improved patient outcomes. Here are two of the innovative protocols we are currently investigating with SBRT:
Combining Immunotherapy with SBRT
Lead physician: Jonathan Schoenfeld, MD, MPH
Experiments suggest that radiation may stimulate the immune system and help immune therapies work better to kill cancers throughout the body in both the areas that have received radiation and in other areas as well. This ongoing research is testing whether using SBRT to kill cancer cells can produce a vaccine-like effect and improve the likelihood of response as compared with immunotherapy alone.
Using SBRT to Treat Cancer that has Spread to the Bone
Lead physician: Tracy Balboni, MD, MPH
Cancers frequently involve the bone, where it can cause symptoms such as pain or fractures, or induce weakness by affecting nearby nerve structures. SBRT can treat bone tumors in a manner that is both dose intense to optimize tumor ablation and prevent recurrence, while being highly focused to avoid nearby normal tissues. This ongoing research is examining the efficacy of SBRT to treat tumors that have spread to bone, including outcomes of bone tumor control, patient symptoms and quality of life.
For over a century, a leader in patient care, medical education and research, with expertise in virtually every specialty of medicine and surgery.