Stereotactic Ablative Radiotherapy (SABR)


What is SABR?

Stereotactic ablative radiotherapy is targeted, highly focused radiation. The dose used for each treatment is 5-10 times larger than a standard radiation dose.

When should SABR be considered?

SABR has most extensively been studied for lung tumors. Other sites are prostate, liver, and spine. Other less studied or less favorable sites to administer SABR include the kidney, adrenal gland, and pancreas. SABR can also be used for small areas of recurrent tumor. The SOMC Cancer Center is currently offering SABR treatment for lung, prostate, spine, and recurrent tumors, with plans for liver in the near future.

What are the benefits of SABR?

Because of the high radiation dose used, SABR treatment has been shown to improve tumor control compared to standard radiation in some sites. Because of the small, focused, radiation fields, the potential side effects of treatment are less than standard radiation. Treatment time is also reduced from 6-9 weeks with standard radiation, to 4 or 5 days with SABR.

What are the side effects?

Side effects vary and depend on the site being treated. Your radiation oncologist will have an in-depth discussion with you on the potential side effects of treatment.

What should I expect?


You will be scheduled for a 4DCT to plan your radiation treatment. This usually takes about an hour. Each of your radiation treatments will take ~30 minutes. A Cone beam CT scan will be performed prior to each treatment while you are on the treatment table for the most accurate localization of your tumor.

How do I choose where to receive my treatment?

You want to choose a facility that has gone through rigorous quality and safety checks to make sure that what they are planning to give you can be done safely at their center. These checks should be verified by outside entities, as it is not enough to say that you can deliver these high doses safely, but also to prove it. This is extremely important when giving high doses of radiation.

What safety standards should be met?

1. The hallmark of a quality radiation center is accreditation. This is a thorough process of inspection and evaluation of a radiation center’s equipment, software, documentation, and clinical practice process by experts to confirm that the center has met the highest safety and quality standards. You can visit to search for an accredited facility. Choose Radiation Oncology from the “Modality” drop down box.

2. Ask if your center offers clinical trials. Only centers that meet the most rigorous technical standards for radiation can enroll patients on clinical trials.

3. A quality center will have performed radiation to a pretend patient (called a phantom) prior to giving you radiation. This phantom has devices inside that can measure radiation dose to critical normal structures such as your spinal cord, heart, rectum, and bladder. Once the radiation is given, the phantom is sent off to an outside organization to determine if the planned radiation dose is what was actually delivered to the phantom, and if it was delivered safely.

4. Ask if a 4DCT is used for treatment planning. A 4D CT scan can assess tumor movement during breathing. This assures that we know exactly where your tumor and normal tissues are for treatment planning.

5. Ask if your center has a full time physicist on staff. A physicist is the person that makes sure the equipment is functioning properly. Ask if the physicist will be present for your treatment. The physicist should be present for each one of your radiation treatments, and be available to intervene during treatment if needed.

6. Ask if your radiation oncologist has been trained in stereotactic procedures. He/she should also be present for each one of your radiation treatments, and be available to intervene during treatment if needed.

Has SOMC Cancer Center met the safety standards?

The SOMC Cancer Center is committed to providing our community with the best quality and safety standards achievable in radiation. The SOMC Cancer Center has met all safety standards because you matter. 

Where can I find more information?

The physicians and staff at the SOMC Cancer Center are ready to answer any questions you may have.  The American Cancer Society Resource Center is also located inside the SOMC Cancer Center.  Volunteers staff the Resource Center and can connect you with further information as well.  Please stop by any day Monday through Friday or give us a call at 740-356-7490. 

Who do you call if you have questions?

Call the SOMC Cancer Center at (740) 356-7490 or toll free 1-888-722-8787, or e-mail us if you have questions.