Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT)

This page was reviewed under our medical and editorial policy by

Maurie Markman, MD, President, Medicine & Science

This page was updated on April 21, 2022.

Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) may be recommended as part of the patient's cancer treatment regimen.

What is SBRT?

SBRT is a type of radiation therapy that uses image guidance to deliver a targeted radiation dose to a tumor located anywhere in the body except the cranium. During SBRT, the radiation focuses on the tumor with millimeter precision. The result may be that less healthy tissue gets damaged by radiation. Preserving healthy tissue is important for cancer patients whose tumors are near or in essential organs.

For certain tumor types and disease sites, markers may be placed to help precisely locate the tumor and guide radiation treatment delivery. This helps facilitate the accuracy and precision of the treatment.

How SBRT is administered

During SBRT treatment, concentrated, highly focused external beam radiation is delivered. The custom mapping provided by the coordinate system plans the radiation to account for a patient's anatomy, breathing and organ motion.

Throughout the treatment, the intensity and direction of the beams are constantly modulated to target the tumor and help spare healthy tissue. The beams are also adjusted for movement from breathing or organ motion. SBRT may be used to deliver a single high dose of radiation, or several fractionated radiation doses (usually up to five treatments over a period of days).

SBRT side effects

The side effects of SBRT may depend on where the tumor is located, because side effects may be more noticeable in or near the treated area. Some patients who receive SBRT report experiencing fatigue.

In contrast to conventional radiation therapy, which delivers smaller doses of radiation each day for several weeks, stereotactic body radiation therapy delivers higher doses in fewer treatments, typically with fewer radiation therapy side effects.


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