Treatment for Lung Tumors

Lung tumors create challenges because the tumor moves as you breathe. Before CyberKnife, this movement made it very difficult to perform radiation treatments, significantly increasing the risk of damaging surrounding healthy tissue. CyberKnife precisely identifies the tumor location as you breathe normally during treatment, allowing for accurate radiation delivery.

Who is involved with CyberKnife treatment at Baptist Cancer Center? Lung cancer treatment with the CyberKnife System at the Baptist Cancer Center involves a team approach. Your team may include the following:

What planning occurs prior to CyberKnife treatment at Baptist Cancer Center?

To pinpoint the lung tumor's location, you will undergo a short outpatient procedure before your treatment. Your doctor will insert three to five small seeds, about the size of a grain of rice, into the lung. The seeds are called fiducial markers, and they are placed in the body through an ultrasound-guided needle or by passing a camera through your mouth and into the airways or esophagus to locate the tumor. The fiducial markers serve as reference points to accurately locate the tumor. If your doctor uses fiducials, you must wait one week to begin treatments to allow fiducial movement to stabilize.

Some patients do not require fiducial placement. In that case, the CyberKnife System will use only the identifying characteristics of the tumor itself to visualize and track the tumor as you breathe normally.

Prior to the treatment, a special custom-fit body cradle will be made for you. Made of a soft material that molds to your body, the cradle ensures that you remain in the same position for each treatment session and will be comfortable during the procedure. You will also be fitted for a special vest, which is worn during CyberKnife treatment and enables the robot to track chest motion and breathing patterns, ensuring safe and accurate radiation delivery.

While lying in the cradle, you will undergo a CT scan and possibly an MRI or PET scan. This data will be used by the Baptist Cancer Center team to determine the exact size, shape and location of the tumor. Once the imaging is complete, the body cradle and vest will be stored for use during your CyberKnife treatment.

A medical physicist will work with your doctors to devise a treatment plan, using CT and/or MRI data that will be downloaded into the CyberKnife System's software. The medical team will determine the size of the targeted area, the radiation dose and location of other organs and tissue where radiation should be minimized. Once the plan is complete, you will return to the CyberKnife center for your treatment, which usually takes one to five sessions.

What does CyberKnife treatment at the Baptist Cancer Center involve?

For most patients, the CyberKnife treatment is a painless experience. You may dress comfortably in your own clothes, and we encourage you to bring music to listen to during the treatment.

When it is time for treatment, you will be asked to put on your vest and lie in your custom body cradle. The radiation therapist will ensure the vest is properly adjusted and that you are positioned correctly on the treatment couch.

The location of the tumor will be continually tracked as you relax and breathe normally, and the computer-controlled robot will move around your body, stopping at each determined location to deliver radiation. The medical team will be watching every step of the way as the CyberKnife detects your tumor movement, allowing for safe and precise radiation delivery.

Once the CyberKnife treatment is complete, most patients quickly return to their daily routines with little interruption in their normal activities. If the treatment is being delivered in stages, you will need to return for additional treatments over the next several days. Your radiation oncologist may prescribe medication designed to control any side effects, should they occur. Side effects are generally minimal and temporary.

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