Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy

Stereotactic body radiation therapy is similar to stereotactic radiosurgery, but it is used for small, isolated tumors outside the brain and spinal cord, often in the liver or lung. It may be an option when you cannot have surgery due to age, health problems, or the location of the tumor.

Types of External Beam Radiation Therapy

There are many types of external beam radiation therapy, all of which share the goal of delivering the highest prescribed dose of radiation to the tumor while sparing the normal tissue around it. Each type relies on a computer to analyze images of the tumor in order to calculate the most precise dose and treatment path possible.


Intensity-modulated radiation therapy


Image-guided radiation therapy


Stereotactic body radiation therapy

What to Expect When Having Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy

How Often You Will Have Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy

Tumors outside of the brain are more likely to move with the normal motion of the body, such as with breathing or digesting. Therefore, the radiation beams cannot be targeted as precisely as they are in stereotactic radiosurgery. For this reason, stereotactic body radiation is usually given in more than one dose. You may have up to five doses, given once per day.

How Does Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy Work?

As in stereotactic radiosurgery, stereotactic body radiation therapy uses special equipment to hold you still during treatment. It delivers a highly precise beam to a limited area.

What to Wear for Your Treatments

Wear clothes that are comfortable and made of soft fabric, such as fleece or cotton. Choose clothes that are easy to take off, since you may need to expose the treatment area or change into a hospital gown. Do not wear clothes that are tight, such as close-fitting collars or waistbands, near your treatment area. Also, do not wear jewelry, adhesive bandages, or powder in the treatment area.

What Happens During a Treatment Session

The radiation therapist will leave the room just before your treatment begins. He or she will go to a nearby room to control the radiation machine. The therapist watches you on a TV screen or through a window and talks with you through a speaker in the treatment room. Make sure to tell the therapist if you feel sick or are uncomfortable. He or she can stop the radiation machine at any time. You will hear the radiation machine and see it moving around, but you won’t be able to feel, hear, see, or smell the radiation.

Most visits last from 30 minutes to an hour, with most of that time spent placing you in the correct position.