New form of radiation therapy cuts treatment time

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120813Drchangandpool.JPGBy Claudia Gertz, MD Anderson Staff Writer

When Barbara Pool was diagnosed with stage 1 lung cancer, she came to MD Anderson expecting to undergo seven weeks of radiation treatment. She and her daughter were pleasantly surprised, however, when the process only took four days.

This speedy treatment program called stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) delivers very high doses of radiation to small and well-defined tumors.

Pool is one of six lung cancer patients per day who go through stereotactic body radiation therapy and she is the 1000th patient to receive this type of radiation at MD Anderson.

Pool was diagnosed in May in her hometown of Odessa, Texas, and considered staying close to home for treatment. However, physicians referred her to MD Anderson, so she and her daughter, Debbie Staggs, followed their advice and traveled to Houston.

Upon examination, Pool was not found to be a good candidate for surgery due to several pre-existing health issues including emphysema, diabetes and a recent stroke. However, she was an excellent candidate for stereotactic body radiation treatment, due to the small size of the tumor in the upper portion of her right lung.

Joe Chang, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology, oversaw Pool's radiation treatment.

"We only received treatment Monday through Thursday and it went by pretty fast," Staggs says. "The treatment lasted less than an hour each day."

Staggs also credits Chang for making the process easy to understand.

"I love Dr. Chang," she says. "He made everything so clear to us and I've already recommended him to several people."

Pool will return to MD Anderson in September for follow-up appointments and Staggs is hopeful that her mother's cancer will be completely gone.

"We've been really pleased with the treatment," she says. "Mom's been doing really well."

Stereotactic body radiation therapy cancer treatment (podcast) with Dr. Chang

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