Week #122: February is National Cancer Prevention Month – Ever Heard About Precision Radiation?

MC at Edwin Eubanks Cancer Center, Petaluma, CA – February 2020

Part 2 of 3: National Cancer Prevention Month 2020

For about the past 100 years we’ve had three major types of cancer treatment tools: cutting, burning, and poison … a.k.a. surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. To date, now 122 weeks into my cancer journey, we’ve used all three to beat my colorectal cancer into a well-controlled state. I have had 4 surgeries, 30 rounds of chemo (with more 6 scheduled), and 10 “fractions” of radiation. Let me tell you more about that last one …

Last spring, we used a cutting-edge technique called “Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy” (SBRT). UCSF Cancer Center describes it this way … “SBRT involves the delivery of a single high dose radiation treatment, or a few fractionated radiation treatments (usually up to five treatments) … a specially designed coordinate-system is used for the exact localization of the tumors in the body in order to treat them with limited but highly precise treatment fields … (SBRT delivery) systems are equipped with image-guided devices that provide highly accurate, concentrated doses of radiation … tracking the location of tumors during breathing and other movements, and delivering radiation with the greatest precision.”

From a patient’s perspective, my SBRT experience was really pretty incredible. Over 10 very short weekly treatment sessions, each less than 30 minutes start-to-finish, two of my tumor areas were addressed. The sessions were all out-patient visits. You basically walk in, drop your stuff in a changing room, hop on the treatment table, adjust your breathing-monitor-apparatus, and begin the timed inhale/exhale/breath-hold cadence. During the 25-35 second breath-hold periods, they zap you with the radiation – for just a few seconds at a time. In my case, I had no side effects from the radiation and the toughest part was getting the hang of the timed-breathing. Because of the location of my tumors, I needed to hold my breath on the exhale. Try that!
(Here’s UCSF’s patient prep video: https://radonc.ucsf.edu/sdx-breath-monitoring-system)

My doctors at UCSF explained there are number of benefits to SBRT and the big ones are:
– Most tumors treated with SBRT, if they are not knocked out entirely, are likely not to reappear for a period of about 2 years based on current averages.
– The precision delivery of radiation is much easier on patients. Since the radiation is micro-targeted to cancer areas, the chances of radiation damage to nearby organs and tissue is greatly reduced.
– You get to keep your pants on! … (Hey, that’s a big one for me. Remember, I’ve got colorectal cancer!)
These benefits make SBRT a really important and powerful tool in my treatment mix. Together with the other tools we currently have, it’s enabled us to address my cancer the way someone might address a chronic illness. That’s an amazing leap forward from just a few years ago when the prognosis for cancers like mine was considered very dire. It’s really a different world of treatment options now.

Of course, the key to more advances and breakthroughs like SBRT lies in our continued commitment to supporting cancer research. I hope you’ll join me in supporting cancer research organizations during this month of Cancer Prevention – more advances are needed across all types of treatment and all types of cancer. Team Crafty supports the Conquer Cancer ASCO Foundation. We invite you to join us in fundraising for Conquer and taking part in our annual cycling event/celebration in May. See our RIDE page on this site for more details. And, you can donate anytime through our team pages at https://Conquer.org/TeamCrafty2020 … or … https://Conquer.org/Ohana2020.

Thanks for all your support!
Get educated.
Get screened.
Support cancer research.
Keep rollin’!

P.S. For more information on the SBRT topic, check out these sites:

Mayo Clinic / Stereotactic Radiology

UCSF SBRT / Radiology

Published by Mark Crafts

I am a Stage IV cancer survivor with a very hopeful and amazing story. Surgery, chemo, radiation … I’ve have been through it all during 44+ months of treatment. Now, I am a UCSF clinical trial patient loaded with “Terminator” T-cells which may provide a major breakthrough for colorectal, colon, liver, lung, and head & neck cancers. Amazing things are always possible!

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