A revolutionary form of radiation therapy will mean better results with far fewer treatments for some lung cancer patients, Health Sciences North announced Monday.
The new treatment at the Northeast Cancer Centre is called Stereotactic Ablative Body Radiotherapy (SABR), which delivers doses of radiation six times stronger than traditional radiation therapy. The doses are delivered with pinpoint accuracy to the site of the cancer tumour, with less impact on surrounding healthy tissue, the hospital said in a news release.
As a result of SABR, cancer patients can complete their radiation therapy in as few as four treatments -- compared to more than 30 -- with potentially better results.
“SABR focuses and controls cancer well,” Dr. Andrew Pearce, a radiation oncologist at the Northeast Cancer Centre, is quoted as saying in the release. “This treatment achieves similar results to surgery, however, it involves no anesthetics, involves as little as four treatments and is an accelerated approach with minimal side-effects. So it’s of tremendous benefit to the patients who receive it.”
While the centre is using SABR only to treat patients with certain lung cancers, in the long term, medical staff plan to treat other forms of cancer with SABR.
“I think this is a marvellous treatment, and some of my friends couldn’t believe I would be finished in as few as six treatments,” said Margaret McCracken of Greater Sudbury, who underwent SABR therapy in spring 2013. “I was very fortunate to receive this treatment, and I think people should know about it. There is hope out there.”
The Northeast Cancer Centre is one of the first cancer care centres in Ontario to provide SABR treatment. Approximately 10 patients so far have been treated with SABR.
“As the main cancer care centre for northeastern Ontario, we are always looking to adopt innovative, effective new approaches to health care,” said Mark Hartman, vice-president of Diagnostic Imaging and Cancer Services at HSN. “The introduction of SABR at the Northeast Cancer Centre demonstrates our commitment to provide our patients with the best, most effective, patient-centred care.”