Researchers from UT Southwestern Medical Center’s Kidney Cancer Program have recently revealed the successful use of stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) to address kidney cancer. The studies were published in the Cancer Biology & Therapy journal.
Kidney cancer tumors tend to be very difficult to manage, even recurring after surgery, and are often resistant to traditional radiation therapy. Dr. Raquibul Hannan, lead author of the study, said in a press release: “Our case studies showed similar survival with the use of stereotactic radiation therapy compared with surgery. This result is important because people with this disease have a traditionally poor prognosis and few options.”
SBRT was used to address the treatment of inferior vena cava tumor thrombus (IVC-TT) that extended to the heart, a kidney cancer complication in which the tumor reaches the veins that allow the return of blood to the heart. About 4 to 36 percent of kidney tumors are connected to IVC-TT.
Dr. Vitaly Margulis, expert in Urology, said: “Removing the tumor surgically currently is the only treatment proven effective. It is still considered an extremely difficult and delicate surgery, with high rates of complications and cancer recurrence. Patients with the disease who undergo surgery have a mortality rate that can be as high as 10 percent, depending on the location of the tumor and its growth into the venous system. There are currently no alternatives for those who are not surgical candidates.”
Dr. Hannan further explained: “For these reasons, finding new therapies such as stereotactic radiation therapy are desperately needed. This innovative proof-of-principle was a critical first step for determining whether our approach will ultimately prove to be effective.”
More than 63,900 new cases of kidney cancer were diagnosed in the United States in 2014, causing approximately 13,800 deaths; researchers say these numbers are rising about 4 percent every year. IVC-TT can be hard to diagnose since patients may not show symptoms, or if they do, they are often confused with other health conditions. When untreated, IVC-TT can lead to complications such as Budd-Chiari syndrome (a serious liver condition), pulmonary tumor embolus (tumor clots in the lung) and ultimately death.
These studies showed that SBRT can be a very effective treatment for the disease, with survival outcomes of 18 months and 24 months comparable to those of standard treatments and, importantly, not associated with any acute or late treatment-related toxicity.
SBRT, also known as stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR), utilizes highly advanced imaging and radiation delivery technology to address very potent doses in cancer treatment, especially in those cases that have already metastasized. Dr. Timmerman is an expert in addressing therapy through SABR and evaluating its efficacy and safety in lung, liver, spine, and prostate cancers.