Spotlight On: Lung Cancer Treatment

Nearly 220,000 people will face a lung cancer diagnosis this year. As the most common cancer diagnosis in the world, the disease kills more people annually than breast, colon and pancreatic cancers combined.

Fortunately, advancements in cancer treatment have not only led to increased survival rates, but also expanded treatment options for patients. CyberKnife Center of Chicago, a cancer treatment center based in Elmhurst, offers one such alternative to treatments like surgery or traditional radiation therapy.

“For patients with surgically complex or medically inoperable tumors, alternatives to traditional lung cancer treatment are important and can give patients additional options to consider,” said Dr. Andy Su, medical director of CyberKnife Center of Chicago.

Surgery is the standard treatment for lung cancer and involves removing all or part of the patient’s affected lung. However, patients in poor general health or suffering from chronic pulmonary disease like emphysema may not be able to undergo surgery. For patients who aren’t surgical candidates, external-beam radiation therapy is typically recommended, although this treatment may be lengthy and difficult for some to endure.

CyberKnife Center of Chicago offers a newer, noninvasive form of treatment for lung cancer called stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT). This advanced procedure is provided using CyberKnife® technology. While the name may conjure images of knives and scalpels, CyberKnife treatment involves no incisions, no sedation and no overnight hospital stay. Lung tumors are treated with very precise, high-dose radiation beams while radiation exposure to healthy tissue surrounding a tumor is minimized.

A key advantage of CyberKnife is the machine’s unique ability to track tumors in real time while compensating for normal patient movements, such as breathing. CyberKnife treatment is completed in five or fewer outpatient procedures. Patients typically experience few, if any, side effects and return to normal routines following treatment.
“Clinical data has shown CyberKnife can offer effective treatment of lung tumors while carrying a low risk of side effects,” says Dr. Su. “Studies to determine long-term effectiveness are ongoing, but early results are promising.”

Since opening in 2009 in partnership with Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare, CyberKnife Center of Chicago has treated an increasing number of lung cancer patients. Currently, lung cancer is the second most frequently treated disease at the center.