The hospital in Sudbury says new radiation therapy may bring better outcomes and result in fewer treatments for patients with lung cancer.

Health Sciences North reports the treatment uses doses of radiation that are six times stronger than the traditional therapy. The doses are delivered with pinpoint accuracy to the cancer tumour, with less impact on healthy tissue, hospital officials says.

As a result, patients can complete radiation therapy in as few as four treatments, instead of 30.

Linear accelerator

Certain lung cancer patients may get better outcomes with far fewer treatments with a new form of radiation therapy that’s been introduced to the Northeast Cancer Centre at Sudbury's hospital. The machine that delivers the Stereotactic Ablative Body Radiotherapy treatment is called a linear accelerator. (Health Sciences North)

The new treatment is called Stereotactic Ablative Body Radiotherapy (SABR).

“SABR focuses and controls cancer well,” said Dr. Andrew Pearce, a radiation oncologist at the Northeast Cancer Centre. “This treatment achieves similar results to surgery; however, it involves no anesthetics, involves as little as four treatments, and is an accelerated approach with minimal side effects. So it’s of tremendous benefit to the patients who receive it.”

The Northeast Cancer Centre is using SABR to treat patients with certain lung cancers. In the future, it plans to treat other forms of cancer with SABR.

“I think this is a marvellous treatment, and some of my friends couldn’t believe I would be finished in as few as six treatments,” said Sudbury area resident Margaret McCracken, who underwent SABR therapy in the spring of 2013.

“I was very fortunate to receive this treatment, and I think people should know about it. There is hope out there.”

The hospital reports the Northeast Cancer Centre is one of the first centres in the province to use the new treatment. So far, 10 patients have been treated with the new method.