New radiotherapy method effective in early stage lung cancer
Stereotactic body radiotherapy has been found effective for early stage lung cancer patients who cannot undergo surgery due to risk from other health issues.
Our Chief Medical Officer provides an analysis of the recent clinical findings.
About 20% of patients with early stage lung cancer are unable to undergo surgery, because of other conditions that affect their overall health.
These are usually elderly patients with peripheral lung tumors up to 3-4 cm, who also suffer from respiratory insufficiency, cardiac problems, severe liver disturbances etc. In these patients, even biopsy is difficult to be taken. This is the group of patients in whom surgery is high risk for health deterioration and mortality.
During the last few years, a new radiotherapy method called “Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy” (SBRT) has been proven effective and safe. It is a high-dose technique, with high accuracy which can kill the cancer cells of the tumor area without affecting the surrounding normal cells.
Clinical trials on stereotactic body radiotherapy
During the 2014 European Lung Cancer Conference (held in Geneva, Switzerland) experts discussed this method and its results at great length.
Although no trials are yet available to compare the efficacy of SBRT with that of surgery, it seems that the results are satisfactory and comparable.
In particular, several studies focusing on stereotactic body radiotherapy report a local tumor control rate of about 85-90% in 3 years, and 5-years survival rate of 50-60%. These are impressive figures in the context of lung cancer.
In a study from Japan, patients who did not undergo surgery achieved 5-year survival rate of 62-72%. It is very important to note that this method was reported as quite safe, with 90-days death rate below 0.8%.
Effective and safe treatment option
In conclusion, lung cancer patients who cannot undergo surgery due to medical reasons, have an additional option for treatment, thanks to the development of new techniques. As shown in studies so far, this option is both effective and safe.