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Photo: SBRT Machine

May 5, 2021

Watauga Medical Center announced today that Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center (the Cancer Center) has implemented Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) to treat cancerous tumors. Typically only available at larger centers, SBRT is an advanced technique that precisely targets a high dose of radiation directly to cancer cells.

When a tumor is located in the torso, the patient’s breathing causes it to move, making it difficult to precisely target with traditional radiation therapy.

Radiation oncologists at the Cancer Center use 4D imaging technology to determine the exact size, shape and location of the patient’s tumor and to map where the tumor moves throughout the breathing cycle. Using this “roadmap,” SBRT radiation is delivered to the tumor with pinpoint accuracy, while simultaneously avoiding damage to the patient’s surrounding healthy tissues.

Photo: Monitoring patient during SBRT SBRT involves the entire treatment team. A radiation therapist, physicist, and doctor are all present during sessions to monitor the patient, making sure the tumor doesn’t move outside the treatment area during breathing.

“Traditional radiation therapy is delivered daily in small doses for six to eight weeks, and can delay additional treatment therapies,” said Ken Neuvirth, Senior Director of Oncology for Appalachian Regional Healthcare System. “SBRT allows us to treat patients in fewer sessions which leads to fewer side effects and better outcomes.”

Small metastatic tumors or early stage primary cancers are the best candidates for this therapy. For example, a patient in the ARHS lung cancer screening program who discovers their cancer in stage one or two might choose this treatment over surgery. For cancer patients who cannot undergo surgery, SBRT offers a safe and effective option.

Having SBRT technology in Boone means that more patients will be able to receive the cancer treatment they need closer to home. They will not have to make expensive housing arrangements in a larger city while they complete their treatment, and they can be surrounded by family, churches, or other support systems.

The Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center first received the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer® Accreditation in 1997 and reaccredited in 2019.

Learn more about Watauga Medical Center’s cancer services at apprhs.org/cancer/.

Learn more about the Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center at apprhs.org/cancercenter/.