Radiation Therapy Can Treat Suspected Lung Cancer Without Biopsy

Some patients with suspected lung cancer cannot undergo a biopsy due to other illnesses or overall frailty; for others, biopsies are performed, but with inconclusive results. For these patients, the diagnosis of lung cancer often rests on strong evidence from computed tomography (CT) or positron emission tomography (PET) scans. In many of these cases, lung cancer also cannot be treated with surgery. A recent study confirms radiation therapy as a safe and effective method for controlling lung cancer in such patients. Thirty-four patients with unbiopsied lung cancer received stereotaxic body radiation therapy (SBRT). Tumors stopped growing in all patients but 1, shrank in 7 patients, and disappeared entirely in 8 of them. No severe side effects were observed. Another study demonstrated that SBRT, in which focused, high doses of radiation are given over a relatively small number of sessions, is more effective against inoperable non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) than traditional, conventionally fractioned radiotherapy (CFR).