November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and Austin CyberKnife is offering tips on reducing the risk of one of its most frequently treated diseases. The center treats lung cancer patients with a procedure called stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) using CyberKnife®technology.
Dr. Doug Rivera, Austin CyberKnife medical director, offers the following tips to reducing the risk of developing lung cancer and supporting the fight against the disease.
- Reduce exposure to cigarette smoke. Smokers who quit can cut their risk of cancer in half within five years according to the American Cancer Society. This can also reduce the risk of a smoker’s loved ones developing cancer through secondhand smoke. The American Cancer Society estimates 3,400 nonsmoking adults die of lung cancer annually as a result of breathing secondhand smoke.
- Get screened. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recently released a recommendation on CT lung cancer screenings for long-term smokers. Though pending finalization, the recommendation applies to current and heavy smokers between ages 55 and 79.
The USPSTF is an independent, volunteer panel of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine. The Task Force works to improve the health of all Americans by making evidence-based recommendations about clinical preventive services such as screenings, counseling services and preventive medications. To read more about the recommendation, view the draft for public comment.
- Check your family history. Learning about your family medical history can give you a better idea of whether you may be at risk not only for developing lung cancer, but other diseases or cancers as well.
“It is remarkable how impactful small changes in your lifestyle can contribute to overall health and lower your risk of a lung cancer diagnosis,” said Dr. Rivera.
For those who may face a lung cancer diagnosis, treatment options vary depending on a patient’s circumstances. For example, patients in poor health or suffering from chronic pulmonary diseases may not be able to undergo surgery and could benefit greatly from CyberKnife treatment. CyberKnife can also be an excellent treatment option for those who simply may not want to undergo surgical treatment and prefer a noninvasive approach. Treatment is nonsurgical and is completed within five or fewer procedures. Patients typically return to their normal routines, experiencing few to no side effects.
CyberKnife treats lung tumors with very precise, high-dose radiation and minimizes radiation exposure to healthy tissue surrounding a tumor. Austin CyberKnife was one of the first centers worldwide to install the Lung Optimization Treatment (LOT) system, which provides an advantage for lung cancer patients with other health issues like emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The LOT system allows these patients to undergo CyberKnife treatment without the use of fiducials, small metal markers sometimes implanted in or near a lung tumor prior to treatment.