St. Louis CyberKnife joins efforts to raise awareness for its partner, SSM Cancer Care at St. Clare Health Center, newly launched preventive lung cancer screenings as part of the International Early Lung Cancer Action Program (I-ELCAP).
The screenings use annual spiral low-dose CT scans to search for lung cancer in current and former heavy smokers. In contrast to conventional CT scans, a spiral CT scan results in less radiation exposure. Researchers have found that low-dose spiral CT scans, which identify potentially cancerous nodules in the lung before they present symptoms, can reduce lung cancer deaths by 20 percent.
“The goal is to detect lung cancer in its early stages when it is much more curable than when it is found in later stages,” Cindy Broder, I-ELCAP Coordinator for SSM Cancer Care said. “When patients begin showing symptoms of lung cancer, the cancer can already be at an advanced stage. This program offers those at high risk for lung cancer the chance to be diagnosed earlier and receive treatment sooner.”
If potentially cancerous nodules are discovered, the SSM St. Clare respiratory department can perform biopsies of tumors deep in the lungs using the recently acquired SuperDimension i-Logic System. The new technology extends the reach of conventional equipment and enables physicians to perform navigational bronchoscopy and diagnose benign and malignant tumors with minimal invasiveness and suggest treatment options.
“An early lung cancer diagnosis can give patients treatment options like CyberKnife® to choose from and increase the likelihood of successful treatment,” Dr. David Morris, St. Louis CyberKnife and SSM Cancer Care radiation oncologist said.
St. Louis CyberKnife treats lung tumors with an advanced procedure called stereotactic body radiation therapy. During treatment, precisely focused beams of radiation are delivered to the tumor from a variety of angles without incisions or sedation. Lung cancer patients account for more than a quarter of total patients treated at the center, many of whom travel from neighboring areas to receive treatment.
“CyberKnife is uniquely capable of tracking a tumor during treatment, allowing the machine to adjust for patient movement,” said Dr. Morris. “This advantage further reduces radiation exposure to nearby healthy tissue and is particularly important for patients who require a nonsurgical treatment alternative due to an inoperable tumor or pre-existing condition.”