Kidney cancer patients may soon have more treatment choices that provide a higher quality of life, thanks to research completed by physician scientists at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Their recent study showed that treating metastatic kidney cancer with an advanced and focused form of radiation called stereotactic ablative radiation therapy achieves more than 90 percent control of local tumors, and offers the possibility of safely delaying systemic therapy.
“This study shows that stereotactic radiation provides a good noninvasive alternative to conventional treatment such as surgery, and that it effectively controls the disease,” said Dr. Raquibul Hannan, Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology and co-Leader of the Kidney Cancer Program of the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center and senior author of the study. “It may also offer an alternative to patients who are not candidates for surgery. Often due to the number and location of the metastases and sometimes due to other conditions, patients are not candidates for surgery.”
The standard of care for metastatic renal cell carcinoma is systemic therapy, which can be associated with significant side effects like tiredness, fatigue, high blood pressure, and rash. These side effects can be significant and debilitating. According to Dr. Hannan, the new study shows that patients with metastatic kidney cancer can be treated with stereotactic radiation therapy with the goal of being cured, or to delay systemic therapy allowing patients to enjoy a better quality of life without the side effects of the drugs.
Dr. Stegall’s Comments: Targeted radiation can be very helpful when surgery is not a viable option. The idea behind stereotactic ablative radiation therapy is to target the tumor area with very minimal radiation exposure to surrounding structures. In cancer treatment, this level of targeting is vital as we know that radiation to healthy structures causes damage to them. With regard to renal (kidney) cancer, treatments such as these could be life-saving – especially for late-stage cancers.