Coastal Radiation Oncology Medical Group
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Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS/SBRT)

A specialized type of external beam radiation therapy called stereotactic radiation uses focused radiation beams targeting a well-defined tumor, relying on detailed imaging, computerized three-dimensional treatment planning and precise treatment set-up to deliver the radiation dose with extreme accuracy (i.e., stereotactically).

There are two types of stereotactic radiation:

  • Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) refers to a single or several stereotactic radiation treatments of the brain or spine. SRS is delivered by a team involving a radiation oncologist and a neurosurgeon.
  • Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) refers to one or several stereotactic radiation treatments with the body, excluding the brain or spine.

SRS/SBRT is best for very small tumors. Doctors use specialized scans to pinpoint exactly where within the body the tumor target is located. A customized holder may be used to keep the body perfectly still during treatment, or the treatment machine may have the ability to adjust for patient motion such as during breathing. These techniques allow doctors to give a high dose of radiation to the tumor in a short amount of time. SRS/SBRT is a type of external beam radiation therapy that can be completed in one to five days rather than over several weeks.

The advantage of SRS/SBRT is it delivers the right amount of radiation to the cancer in a shorter amount of time than traditional treatments. Plus the treatment is delivered with extreme accuracy, minimizing the effect on nearby organs. A disadvantage to SRS/SBRT is that this technique is suitable only for small, well-defined tumors that can be seen on imaging such as CT or MR scans, thus the approach is not suitable for all situations. Also, the amount of radiation that may be safely delivered may be limited if the cancer is located close to a sensitive normal structure, such as the spinal cord or bowel.