795 Middle Street, Fall River, MA 02721 508-674-5600
For patients with early-stage lung and certain other cancers that require treatment but cannot be treated surgically, Saint Anne’s Hospital Regional Cancer Care now offers an advanced treatment called stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT).
What is SBRT?
SBRT is an advanced form of radiation therapy that dramatically reduces the number of treatments while providing a much higher degree of precision. It is used to care for patients who require cancer treatment but cannot undergo surgery because of other medical conditions.
Offered primarily in academic medical centers, SBRT is similar to another form of radiation therapy called stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS). Introduced in 2010 at Saint Anne’s Dartmouth campus, SRS is used to treat brain and other central nervous system tumors. It is similar to SBRT in that it provides a greater combined, highly precise dose of radiation in far fewer treatment sessions. However, SBRT is different because it treats cancers in areas of the body outside of the central nervous system, typically those in the lungs, spine and liver.
Complex technology, effective treatment
SBRT treatment planning uses advanced four-dimensional CT and PET/CT to map a tumor’s exact location and its movement with breathing, as well as the patient’s unique anatomy and other important information. SBRT treatment is unique in that is typically administered over the course of just three to five sessions, compared to other therapies that may require 30 or more sessions.
Raymond Dugal, MD, Saint Anne’s chief of radiation oncology and a member of the staffs of Brigham and Women’s Radiation Oncology and Harvard Medical School, (right) notes that SBRT is usually offered only at academic medical centers. Saint Anne’s is one of just a few community hospitals in Massachusetts to offer SBRT.
“SBRT is complex and requires a high degree of experience, expertise, and collaboration among team members,” explains Dr. Dugal. “Because of its complexity, and the need to ensure the highest degree of patient safety, our team of physicians, physicists, dosimetrists and radiation therapists collaborated with our colleagues at Brigham and Women’s Hospital for more than a year in planning for SBRT.”
Dugal notes that the use of SBRT will expand to treat other tumors that cannot be treated with conventional radiation techniques because of prior radiation therapy, as well some metastatic cancers (those that have spread from an original location).
“For carefully selected patients, SBRT is highly effective in sparing normal tissue in and around critical organs and has few side effects,” explained Dugal. “It offers results comparable to surgery, and it can be done right in our patients’ community. It’s wonderfully gratifying to offer an advanced therapy that has such compelling advantages.”
Other locally available advanced cancer-fighting tools
In addition to SBRT and SRS, Saint Anne’s Hospital also offers these radiation therapies:
Saint Anne’s Hospital is
a community hospital with comprehensive inpatient, outpatient, and
emergency care services, serving adults and children in southeastern
Massachusetts and nearby Rhode Island. Founded in 1906 by the
Dominican Sisters of the Presentation, Saint Anne's Hospital is a member
of Steward Health Care, the largest fully integrated community care
organization in New England. Saint Anne’s specialized centers and
services include Saint Anne’s Hospital Regional Cancer Care; the Robert
F. Stoico/FIRSTFED Center for Breast Care; Steward Diabetes Care
Program; the Steward Centers for Pain Management; geriatric psychiatry;
orthopedics; pediatrics (including inpatient care and specialty
outpatient medical, behavioral and developmental care through the
Fernandes Center for Children & Families); adult and pediatric
rehabilitation; cardiovascular care; and primary care.
Steward Health Care is the largest fully integrated community care organization in New England. Headquartered in Boston, Steward is the third largest employer in MA with more than 17,000 employees serving more than one million patients annually in 85 communities. Hospitals in the system include Saint Anne’s in Fall River, Holy Family Hospital in Methuen, St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton, Norwood Hospital, Carney Hospital in Dorchester, Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton, Nashoba Valley Medical Center in Ayer, Merrimack Valley Hospital in Haverhill, Morton Hospital and Medical Center in Taunton, and Quincy Medical Center in Quincy. Other Steward Health Care entities include Steward Medical Group, Steward Hospice and Home Care, Labouré College, and Por Cristo.