Respected surgeon predicts major change in lung cancer treatment

Miami 17 January 2005Respected cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. William Thomas Brown has predicted that lung cancer treatment will undergo a major shift in the near future due to new technology already being used in South Florida. For the past year, Dr. Brown has been successfully treating lung cancer patients using the latest radiation technology called CyberKnife. Using a robotic arm and missile guidance technology, CyberKnife delivers targeted doses of radiation to often inoperable tumours with sub-millimeter accuracy.


Dr. Brown, board certified in general surgery, cardiothoracic surgery and paediatric surgery, is an expert in the evolution of surgical techniques, including pioneering the development of video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery.

Lung cancer is the leading killer among all cancers and affects more than 12.000 Floridians each year. According to Dr. Brown, only 20-25 percent of lung cancer patients are eligible for traditional surgery, and overall mortality rates are high. For the past 20 years, general surgery has been the preferred treatment for lung cancer, but less than one quarter of all patients are eligible.

Traditional radiation treatment has modest success treating lung cancer, but high doses also negatively impact surrounding tissue and organs, according to Dr. Brown. CyberKnife treatment can pinpoint the radiation and deliver the highest possible safe dose in fewer visits.

Early studies have already shown a significant improvement over typical radiation. Because CyberKnife treatment is not surgery, many more patients are eligible including individuals over age 70, afflicted by emphysema or suffering from cardiac disease. Dr. Brown's results have been so successful that he is scheduled to present his findings at the CyberKnife Users' Meeting in California at the end of the month.

"Using CyberKnife for a typical three-day treatment, we can safely beam more than three times the amount of radiation into lung cancer tumours than is used in traditional treatment, which takes five to six weeks", stated Dr. Brown. "For most lung cancer patients, survival is directly proportional to the amount of radiation delivered."

The CyberKnife Center of Miami treats tumours and cancer in the brain, spine, lungs, liver, head and neck, and pancreas. Treatment is covered by major insurance carriers and costs 20 to 45 percent less than conventional surgery.

More than 10.000 patients worldwide have been treated by the CyberKnife stereotactic radiosurgery system at 35 centres worldwide. Developed by a Stanford University neurosurgeon, it is the only robotic image-guided radiation system that enables the precise targeting and treatment of tumours throughout the body. The CyberKnife Center of Miami is an independent, free-standing centre and is open to select community physicians who have been trained and credentialed in CyberKnife radiosurgery. More news on the CyberKnife system is available in the VMW November 2004 article Cyberknife radiosurgery is a safe and effective treatment for benign tumours, study claims.

Leslie Versweyveld

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