November is National Lung Cancer Awareness Month and Oklahoma CyberKnife hopes to raise awareness of a noninvasive treatment option for the nation’s second-most common disease. The center has treated nearly 100 lung cancer patients using CyberKnife® technology this year.
Evolving treatment options have improved quality of life and survival rates, helping lung cancer patients to monitor the disease and take an active role in determining their treatment plan. Oklahoma CyberKnife treats lung tumors with an advanced procedure called stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT). During treatment, the CyberKnife delivers precisely targeted, high-dose radiation beams to the tumor from a variety of angles without incisions or sedation.
Removing all or part of a patient’s affected lung through surgery is the most common treatment for lung cancer, but CyberKnife provides an alternative for those unable or unwilling to undergo surgery. For example, those in poor general health or who have a concern for potential side effects that could impact quality of life typically turn to radiation therapy treatments like SBRT.
“As healthcare technology evolves, patients have more options than ever for effective treatments that work for their lifestyle,” said Oklahoma CyberKnife medical director Dr. Diane Heaton. “For patients who are appropriate candidates, CyberKnife can provide an effective nonsurgical alternative.”
CyberKnife treatment is completed in five or fewer sessions compared to the 40 treatments typically required with conventional radiation therapy. CyberKnife’s unique ability to track tumors during treatment allows the machine to make adjustments for normal patient movements like breathing, minimizing radiation exposure to healthy tissue. Patients typically return to their normal routines immediately following treatment.
Dr. Heaton recommends those concerned about a potential lung cancer diagnosis consider getting tested if they have a long-term history of smoking. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recently released a recommendation on CT lung cancer screenings for long-term smokers. Though pending finalization, the recommendation applies to current and heavy smokers between ages 55 and 79. To read more about the recommendation, view the draft for public comment.