Targeted cancer therapy, in comparison to typically larger field radiation procedures, targets a smaller area of cancer cells. Patients with brain cancer, breast cancer or lung cancer may benefit from targeted radiation approaches. According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, statistics show that 92 percent of patients who receive larger field, whole-brain therapies report memory and verbal recall difficulties afterwards.
Targeted radiosurgery offers the potential to target a small number of cancer cells. Statistics suggest that patients receiving whole-brain therapy do not outlive patients receiving targeted therapies. Researchers say that laser therapy can be used to specific target multiple tumors or new tumors that arise after initial therapies. Risks and side effects are less than those of whole-brain approaches, according to researchers at Houston’s MD Anderson Cancer Center.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates that about 400,000 patients in the U.S. experience metastatic cancer that affects the brain. Statistics show that the patient’s primary cancer is often found in the lungs or breasts. About half of patients receive whole-brain therapy. This process exposes the patient’s entire brain to once daily doses of about 20 minutes each. Therapy typically occurs for 10 to fifteen days.
In contrast, targeted laser surgery focuses beams of radiant energy within a millimeter’s precision. Treatment duration may also be reduced. Some patients may require just one visit. Until quite recently, oncologists treated patients’ brain tumors using targeted therapy to treat individual lesions. Whole-brain therapy was then used to decrease the potential of new tumors’ appearance.
Research reported by NIH shows that whole-brain treatments are best used in targeting aggressive forms of brain cancer or metastatic cancers that result in brain tumors. Less damaging targeted therapies are now thought to provide better results for many cancer patients.
According to the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), targeted therapy is often breast-conserving strategy. Rather than exposing the entire breast to potential damage, the oncologist targets the specific cancer cells. Partial breast irradiation (APBI) may have multiple advantages, including reduced exposure to irradiation.
Because whole field therapies may inadvertently damage other tissues or organs, ASTRO suggests that APBI should be considered as a first step in treating breast cancer in some patients. Researchers believe that short-duration treatments are especially important to female patients less than 50 years old.
Radiotherapy is used to treat all lung cancer types. It is especially useful in treating early stage cancers. The oncologist’s goal is to completely remove the cancer with laser like precision.