New York Methodist Offers New Cutting Edge Radiation Therapy Procedure

Dec 9, 2009

New York Methodist Hospital is now offering a new type of radiation therapy for select patients with difficult to reach (or inoperable) tumors. The procedure, stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), is a technique designed to deliver radiation therapy very precisely to tumors in the lung, liver, spine and pancreas tumors could not be treated as precisely with conventional radiation therapy and that may be inoperable.

Like its predecessor, stereotactic radiosurgery, another procedure offered at the Hospital that has become the gold standard for treating brain tumors, SBRT treats tumors without damaging the surrounding tissue. The precision associated with SBRT helps reduce the dose of radiation to normal tissue around a tumor, thus minimizing side effects for patients. While it delivers a high dose of radiation, SBRT is given for just three days, and each treatment takes only about 15 minutes.

We knew that this technology would be ideal for some tumors in the body, said Hani Ashamalla, M.D., chairman of radiation oncology at NYM. Ashamalla, But researchers first had to develop ways to immobilize the patient and track mobile tumors especially those affected by the breathing cycle, such as lung and liver tumors, through a technique called respiratory gating. Respiratory gating is the latest advance in radiation oncology to permit a reduction in the volume of normal tissue treated. Using a multi-slice, four-dimensional CT scanner (the fourth dimension is time) and computers capable of storing and manipulating the necessary 1,000 CT images, radiation oncologists measure the tumors range of motion during respiration and customize the treatment field to the patient, based on the magnitude and direction of tumor motion.

We are very pleased with the results, said Dr. Ashamalla, who added that patients have not experienced any unwanted side effects. This technology offers hope to those whose tumors may not be treatable by other means.

For more information about SBRT and other radiation therapy procedures offered at the Hospital, call 718 780-3677.