Stereotactic radiation therapy now available on the Sunshine Coast

Icon Writers / 29 May, 2019

Stereotactic radiation therapy benefits lung cancer patient

Icon Cancer Centre Maroochydore is now delivering stereotactic radiation therapy (SRT) treatment, an advanced technique used to treat, small well-defined brain and lung tumours, including tumours that have spread from a primary cancer.

The centre is the first oncology care provider on the Sunshine Coast to offer this precision treatment technique, now eliminating the need for cancer patients in the region to travel long distances in to metropolitan Brisbane.

Gympie cancer patient, 73-year-old, Pam Friske was first diagnosed with lung cancer in 2001. Having caught the tumour quite early, Pam was able to have surgery to remove the tumour with no further treatment. Since then, Pam has had regular x-rays and CT scans to monitor any changes. This year, after her scans found the nodules in her lungs had changed, a PET-CT scan found she had two small cancerous tumours in both lungs.

“First time around I was an emotional wreck. I was really worried about having to get chemo, so I was lucky in that sense. This time around I’m not as worried. It’s back, so I’m going to get on with it. I think I always had in the back of my mind that it might turn into cancer again, so in a way I’ve felt prepared,” Mrs Friske said.

Pam’s two tumours are only 1cm in diameter. Due to the small size of her tumours, radiation therapy treatment is a suitable option. However, as the tumours are so small a special technique is recommended. Stereotactic radiation therapy delivers pinpoint precision radiation to the individual tumours, ensuring safe and effect treatment directly to the tumour, while minimising radiation dose to surrounding healthy organs and tissue. Pam was the first lung cancer patient at the Icon Cancer Centre to receive this new treatment technique and has had four sessions of radiation on the right lung and will be going back to receive treatment to the left lung.

“I’ve had two treatments across two weeks with no side effects. I’m only on the treatment bed for just over 15 minutes. On my first day I was a little apprehensive, but they assured me of the treatment and talked me through the process, and since then it’s been easy,” Mrs Friske said.

Stereotactic radiation therapy will not only advantage many patients with lung cancer, but is also suitable for patients with secondary brain cancer, providing patients with increased quality of life. Previously, people were required to travel to Brisbane to receive this comparable care. “Previously, for a lot of these cancer cases we would need to radiate more of the area around the tumour,” says Icon Radiation Oncologist Dr Myo Min.

“Stereotactic radiation therapy treatment allows us to directly target very small, well-defined tumours. It is a treatment option for some early stage lung cancer and is also suitable for patients with one or a few lung metastasis (tumours).”

“Large doses of radiation are delivered directly to the tumours with minimal side effects. Conventionally we would have had to treat a larger area of the affected lung over a longer period time. Another advantage of this treatment is the ability to monitor the patient’s lung motion while they are being treated to ensure the radiation is being delivered with absolute accuracy.”

“This treatment is also effective for patients with secondary brain cancer as previously we would radiate the entire brain. This can be uncomfortable for the patient and cause increased side effects such as headaches, hair loss and nausea. It delivers safe and effective treatment while also reducing side effects allowing patients a better quality of life. Being able to offer the latest techniques to the local community is an important step in fulfilling our commitment to delivering the best possible cancer care to more patients, closer to home.”

For Pam who is surrounded by her family and friends and is able to spend her retirement sewing and making porcelain dolls, being able to have this treatment locally meant a great deal.

“I’m very grateful I only have to travel about 45 minutes each way to the Icon centre to receive my treatment. If I had to go to Brisbane, that would mean facing traffic and would add another hour to our journey. My daughter drives me and my husband to each appointment and everyone that comes along with me is always invited into the doctor’s room.

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