Clinical Programme: Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) for Liver Tumours
The liver is an important organ in the abdomen that detoxifies the blood coming from the digestive tract, metabolises drugs and makes proteins. Liver tumours can arise from the liver itself (primary liver cancer) or as spread from a cancer in another organ (secondary liver cancer). Traditionally, tumours in the liver have been treated by surgery or chemotherapy, with radiation therapy playing a minor role. This is because normal liver cells are relatively sensitive to radiation damage, which limits how much radiation can be delivered to liver tumours. In addition, the lack of precise radiotherapy delivery techniques in the past meant that there would be large amounts of normal liver treated together with the tumor, further increasing the extent of radiation damage.
Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) refers to an advanced form of external beam radiotherapy. A specialised co-ordinate system allows multiple, sharply focussed x-ray beams to hit small targets in the body. This not only allows liver tumors to be treated with great precision (therefore minimizing collateral damage), but also allows the delivery of high doses of radiation to a target within the body in either one or up to five treatment sessions. With such technology, this non-invasive method of delivering radiotherapy is now recognized as one of the options for treating liver tumours. SBRT can be employed to treat both primary and secondary liver tumours, especially those deemed not suitable for surgical removal.