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Study Finds SBRT Better than Surgery in Post-Treatment Lung Cancer Survival

In a recent new study published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, a peer-reviewed medical journal published by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, patients with non-small cell lung cancer who underwent stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) had a better post-treatment survival rate than those who received surgery.

The gold standard for the treatment of early-stage lung cancer has long been surgery, but accurately targeted radiation is emerging as a viable nonsurgical alternative, especially for older patients who have a high risk of surgical complications.

For the study, researchers from the University of Colorado Cancer Center wanted to determine the post-treatment survival rate of patients from the National Cancer Database (NCDB) with non-small cell lung cancer.  They identified 76,623 patients who underwent surgery and 8,216 patients who received SBRT.  The investigation revealed that both forms of treatment resulted in low rates of post-treatment mortality: 2.1% of patients who underwent surgery died within 30 days of treatment compared with 0.7% of patients who received focused radiation.  The gap between the mortality rates of SBRT and surgery widened with age: For patients ages 71 to 75, surgery led to a 1.87% greater risk of mortality compared with SBRT; for patients ages 76 to 80, the difference in risk increased to 2.8%; and for patients older than 80, the difference increased to 3% within 30 days after treatment.

At Oklahoma CyberKnife, 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.

To learn more about how Oklahoma CyberKnife treats lung tumors with CyberKnife technology, please click here.