Introduction: With the anticipation of improved outcomes, especially for patients with early-stage non-small cell lung cancer, stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) has been rapidly introduced into the thoracic radiation oncology community. Although at first glance lung SBRT might seem methodologically similar to conventional radiotherapy, there are important differences in its execution that require particular consideration. The objective of this paper is to highlight these and other issues to contribute to the safe and effective diffusion of lung SBRT. We discuss practical challenges that have been encountered in the implementation of lung SBRT at a single, large institution and emphasize the importance of a systematic approach to the design of lung SBRT services.
Methods: Specific technical and clinical components that were identified as being important during the development of lung SBRT at Princess Margaret Hospital are described. The clinical system that evolved from these is outlined.
Results: Using this clinical framework the practical topics addressed include: patient assessment, simulation and treatment planning, tumor and organ at risk delineation, trial set up before treatment, on-line image-guidance, and patient follow-up.
Conclusions: The potential gain in therapeutic ratio that is theoretically possible with lung SBRT can only be realized if the tumor is adequately irradiated and normal tissue spared. A discussion of the component parts of lung SBRT is presented. It is a complex process and specific challenges need to be overcome to effect the satisfactory transition of lung SBRT into routine practice.