Before they adopted SBRT as a treatment option in 2004, their results from the previous method — daily radiation for 35 treatments —were “just lousy,” says Bradley, the S. Lee Kling Professor of Radiation Oncology. Intrigued by reports of SBRT, he traveled to Germany and Japan to learn the technique, and he and his colleagues became national leaders in adopting it. They have since treated some 500 patients, and the outcome “has been excellent,” he adds. “Our primary tumor control rate is better than 90 percent, and we’re thrilled with the results.”
SBRT works so well because it is a precisely targeted treatment in which radiation beams are arrayed around a tumor, and the maximum dose is focused directly on the cancer, minimizing the exposure of adjacent tissue. Specialized equipment is necessary for the therapy: body-positioning apparatus to keep the patient immobile for the 30-minute session, and a linear accelerator with multi-slice CT imaging that shows even slight tumor movement. Over a week’s time, a patient has three to five treatments and then is done, with little post-operative discomfort.
Bradley’s early advocacy for SBRT drew the attention of thoracic surgeons, and his team began collaborating with them on widely published multidisciplinary research.
Recently, Clifford Robinson, MD, assistant professor of radiation oncology, became chief of the SBRT service.
The service has grown under Robinson’s leadership, and he undertook surgery/SBRT analyses with Crabtree and Puri.
“Without Cliff’s work, we would not have been able to accomplish these studies,” says Crabtree.