About Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy
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Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT)
Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) is also called stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR). It administers very high doses of radiation, using several beams of various intensities aimed at different angles to the body to precisely target the tumor. However, the tissues around it only receive a low dose.
What does SBRT treat?
This type of radiotherapy is mainly used to treat very small cancers, including cancer of the lung, Cancers in the lymph nodes, Spinal cord tumors and Cancer that started in the liver or cancer that has spread to the liver.
Preparation for the procedure
You may be asked not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the night before your treatment. You should discuss with your doctor any concerns. First you get a CT scan then an MRI or PET scans of the area to be treated. A computer program then designs radiation beams that follow the shape of the tumor to ensure that the entire tumor is inside the radiotherapy field and healthy tissue is avoided as much as possible.
The radiographers may make marks on your skin make sure the same area is treated at each session. A mould or mask keeps the treatment area completely still so that treatment is as accurate as possible. Any markings are made on the mask, instead of your skin. Metal markers may be put in or near your tumor. A small gold pellet or rod is released once the tip of the needle is in the right place.
Having SBRT treatment
Techniques such as SBRT, aim to maximize the capabilities of destroying cancer while minimizing the radiation effect on healthy tissue. A treatment team creates your treatment plan in a few days to 2 weeks. Machines used for this therapy include the Linear accelerator (LINAC) and CyberKnife radiotherapy machine.
To have the treatment you lie on a radiotherapy couch and any moulds that you may need are put in place. The staff then leaves the room so as not to be exposed to radiation. The treatment lasts between 15 minutes to 2 hours. It is important to stay very still throughout the treatment. The machine makes a beeping noise from time to time. Once the treatment is over you can get down from the treatment couch
Possible side effects include:
- soreness and swelling in the treatment area
- urinary and bladder changes
- secondary cancer
- fracture of bones
- hair loss in the treatment area
- mouth problems and difficulty swallowing
- eating and digestion problems
- nausea and vomiting
- brain changes
- spinal cord changes
- colon and rectal changes
- joint changes
Number of sessions required : Usually, you have between 1 to 8 treatments given as a single dose or up to five doses once a day. This can vary depending on the type and location of the tumor and the patient’s condition.
After care : These treatments are normally performed on an outpatient basis. However, you may need to spend up to a half-day or more at the facility. It is advisable to have someone accompany you and drive you home afterward.
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