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Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams (x-rays) to destroy cancer cells by damaging their DNA. It is very effective at controlling or eliminating tumors at specific sites in the body. 

Radiation therapy can be given as a curative therapy to patients whose lung cancers are confined to the chest but cannot be removed surgically. Using the most-advanced technologies, we can now deliver powerful doses of radiation directly to the tumor with exquisite precision. The approaches we use can reduce the number of sessions required for radiation treatment in comparison with more-conventional approaches, while also limiting the risk of side effects.

Radiation therapy can also be used as a palliative measure to improve quality of life among patients whose disease does not respond to surgery or chemotherapy.

Our radiation oncology team works together to offer the highest level of safety during every step of your treatment. Highly trained medical physicists work in subspecialized teams with the radiation oncologists to create an individualized radiation treatment plan for every patient.

Radiation therapists are present during each radiation procedure to ensure that the correct dose of radiation is being delivered precisely where it is needed.

Radiation Therapy for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Radiation therapy for early-stage non-small cell lung cancer, which consists of a single small nodule in the lung without any spread to nearby lymph nodes, is typically given as stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT). SBRT has been highly successful in treating small lung lesions with excellent long-term chances to eradicate them. It is therefore the
standard of care for patients who cannot be treated surgically.

Radiation therapy is given in place of surgery for patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes but is still confined to the chest and who cannot be treated surgically either because of a tumor’s location or because of the patient’s health. It is ideally given with chemotherapy administered either at the same time or before or after radiation therapy. These treatments typically last about six weeks, with five daily treatments per week.

Patients who have advanced non-small cell lung cancer that is confined to the chest and who have their tumor surgically removed may be treated with a five-to-six week course of radiation therapy before or after their surgery depending on their specific situation.


Radiation Therapy for Small Cell Lung Cancer

The approach your physicians recommend will depend on the stage of your disease.

People with limited-stage small cell lung cancer confined to the chest simultaneously receive a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy to shrink the tumor. Radiation therapy for limited-stage small cell lung cancer can be administered either once or twice a day. The treatment course lasts between three and seven weeks.

People with extensive-stage cancer typically receive chemotherapy only. Radiation therapy can be given to help improve symptoms such as pain, headaches, or weakness from brain lesions. The treatment course typically lasts for two to three weeks, with five daily treatments per week.

In many people, small cell lung cancer metastasizes or spreads to the brain, even after a positive response to initial treatments.

Prophylactic or preventive cranial irradiation is a whole-brain radiation therapy that can help prevent the development of brain metastases and improve survival in patients with limited- and extensive-stage small cell lung cancer who show a response to treatment with first-line chemotherapy or chemotherapy and radiation therapy.