Feb. 7, 2000 The Indiana University School of Medicine will be the first site in the nation to investigate a new non-invasive therapy that may help patients with medically inoperable, early-stage lung cancer.
The new procedure, stereotactic body radiotherapy, utilizes intensity modulated photon radiation, 3-D imaging and stereotactic body mapping. It employs treatment concepts similar to those used in Gamma Knife radiosurgery, a non-invasive technique which has been very effective in treating brain tumors. The stereotactic treatment plan will involve three outpatient treatments. This trial is for patients with early stage lung cancer who are not candidates for surgery due to significant related medical problems. These patients typically have limited viable treatment options.
Early stage lung cancer traditionally is treated with surgery, conventional radiation, or both. There is a 60 percent to 70 percent cure rate for early stage lung cancer in patients undergoing surgery and a 20 percent to 30 percent cure rate for those treated with conventional radiation, which involves five weeks to six weeks of daily radiation treatments.
"Lung cancer patients frequently have numerous other health problems such as emphysema or heart disease that weaken their reserves, making them poor candidates for major lung surgery," said pulmonologist Mark D. Williams, M.D., clinical assistant professor of medicine and principal investigator of the trial. "If the results of our trial are as promising as we hope, this will provide an exciting new treatment option for these lung cancer patients."
In the new procedure a 3-D computer generated grid system is used to precisely map the location where the therapy will be directed. The patient then receives multiple "shots" of photon beams produced by a linear accelerator.
"Stereotactic body radiotherapy is a promising emerging technology," said Robert D. Timmerman, M.D., assistant professor of radiation oncology and co-principal investigator on this trial. "In 1997, IU did the first treatment in the United States using this technology for a patient whose cancer had spread to the lung. This trial is unique and exciting, though, because it is for cancer that originates in the lung, a much more common problem affecting cancer patients. It could revolutionize the way medically inoperable, early-stage lung cancer is treated."
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