Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy


Stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) is a type of radiation therapy to treat cancer. It is also known as stereotactic ablative body radiotherapy (SABR). It shrinks or destroys tumors with higher doses of radiation, greater precision and fewer treatments than more traditional radiation therapy techniques.

What is Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy?

SBRT is often used to treat cancers of the lung, liver, prostate, spine or gastrointestinal system. It is ideal for tumors that are hard to reach, prone to movement or next to vital organs.

SBRT uses a machine to send radiation into your body with extreme precision. In doing so, it:

  • Delivers radiation within one to two millimeters of its target.
  • Relies on “imaging” such as CT or MRI scans. These scans confirm the location and create a 3-D map, of your tumor.
  • Sends several beams of radiation to your tumor at one time.
  • Uses higher doses of radiation than other radiation techniques.

Benefits of Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy

All types of radiation therapy kill cancer cells. But SBRT offers several advantages. These include:

  • More targeted and precise radiation delivery.
  • Higher doses of radiation can increase efficacy in some tumor types. They can also reduce the number of needed treatment sessions. Some patients only need one round of SBRT.
  • A markedly reduced amount of radiation reaches healthy tissue next to the tumor. This helps reduce side effects and long-term complications.

What to Expect From SBRT

Your Mercy care team will make sure you understand what to expect before, during and after SBRT treatment. For example:

  • Some patients will need to have tiny “markers” or seeds placed in their bodies. Also known as fiducial markers, they help your care team quickly locate your tumor. They also ensure your body is positioned correctly during treatment.
  • You may also need to use a custom-fit, molded device. It will help you stay still during treatment.
  • SBRT may cause temporary side effects. These often include fatigue and skin changes (such as redness, itching or peeling). You may also have problems in the part of your body that was treated. These may include nausea, digestion problems or bladder changes.
  • Like any medical treatment, SBRT poses immediate or long-term risks. Our team will make sure you're fully informed before you begin treatment. If your doctor recommends you have SBRT, it’s because he or she believes the benefits outweigh the risks. Your care team will carefully plan your treatments to ensure they are safe and effective.

If you have questions or concerns about SBRT, don’t hesitate to talk to one of your Mercy caregivers. Our goal is deliver the most effective and convenient treatment, so you can quickly get back to living life to its fullest.

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