Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) is a technique designed to deliver radiation therapy very precisely to tumors anywhere in the body. The word stereotactic pertains to the precise positioning of a tumor in relationship to the body. The technology used in SBRT allows external beam radiation to be delivered with pinpoint accuracy. With SBRT the physician can even take into account movement of a tumor based on a patient’s breathing pattern. Such advancement in accuracy of radiation treatments allows higher doses of radiation to be delivered, thus potentially improving the likelihood of killing the cancer cells of a tumor. Another benefit to improved accuracy is that treatments can be completed in a short period of time. Typically, SBRT consists of 3 to 5 treatments carried out over the course of 1 to 2 weeks. The precision associated with SBRT simultaneously helps reduce the dose of radiation to normal tissue around a tumor, thus helping to reduce side effects for patients.

We have been using SBRT routinely for the treatment of small tumors in the lung and liver. Usually small tumors of the lung are removed by a surgeon. However, many patients have other medical problems that prevent them from undergoing surgery. For patients with small lung tumors who are not able to undergo surgery, we have routinely offered them SBRT.