Stereotactic body radiation therapy

What is it?

Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), also called stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SaBR), is used to treat tumors outside of the brain and spine. It accurately delivers very high doses of radiation to the tumor in few treatments (one to five) while limiting the impact on nearby healthy tissue.

UK uses a TrueBeam linear accelerator with advanced imaging and highly precise intensity-modulated radiation therapy techniques to rapidly and safely deliver the treatments. Markey’s own Ronald McGarry, MD, PhD, helped pioneer this cutting-edge radiation technology in lung cancer in the United States approximately 20 years ago, and our radiation oncology team has over a decade of experience using it at UK to successfully treat patients.

What cancers is it used it to treat?

SBRT is used to treat tumors in areas outside the brain and spine, including:

  • Lungs
  • Liver
  • Abdomen
  • Pelvis
  • Lymph nodes
  • Bones

We also use SBRT to treat symptoms associated with these conditions, which is called palliative treatment. Stereotactic radiosurgery is a similar treatment used to treat brain tumors and other skull-based conditions.

What should patients expect?

Prior to the first SBRT session, patients meet with their radiation oncologist for a treatment planning session. We use imaging technology, such as CT and MRI, to locate and map the tumor, as well as to choose the precise beam positioning and dose intensity.

Depending on the condition or symptoms being treated, a patient will need one to five radiation treatment sessions. However, each session lasts only about 15 to 20 minutes, and patients are able to immediately go back to their daily tasks.

What are the benefits?

  • SBRT is a lower-risk and less-invasive treatment option than surgery for eligible patients.
  • It has minimal side effects, particularly compared with surgery, and limits the effect on quality of life.
  • Unlike other radiation technologies, each outpatient session lasts only about 15 to 20 minutes, and patients are able to immediately go back to their daily tasks.

Having offered this radiation therapy longer than almost any other cancer center in the country, Markey’s radiation oncologists have the most extensive experience and technology to help effectively treat patients using SBRT.