Stanford Cancer Institute

SCI Innovation Awardee

March 2023

A $50,000 SCI Cancer Innovation award was awarded to Wu Liu, PhD, Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology; Billy W. Loo Jr., MD, PhD, Professor of Radiation Oncology; and Harmeet Bedi, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, for their project entitled “Cone beam CT-guided, electromagnetic bronchoscopy-aided delivery of high dose rate brachytherapy for peripheral lung mass ablation.”

Although surgery remains the standard for early-stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) treatment, medical comorbidities preclude surgical resection in many patients, especially older ones. Stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR) is an established non-invasive treatment for inoperable patients and has been shown non-inferiority to video-assisted surgery even for operable early-stage NSCLC. However, SABR-associated toxicities may be intolerable for patients with tumors closely adjacent to critical organs or patients who had previous radiation treatment or have underlying pulmonary fibrosis. High dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy places a radioactive source near or in the tumor to deliver a high radiation dose to the tumor with a fast dose fall-off outside the tumor according to the inverse square law, resulting in significantly reduced dose to nearby critical organs. Endobronchial HDR brachytherapy is a treatment option to effectively remove a blockage caused by cancers inside the airway tubes of the lung. The recent development of electromagnetic navigation bronchoscopy with cone beam CT guidance and novel transbronchial access tools has enabled minimally invasive access and brachytherapy treatment of peripheral lung tumors previously inaccessible by conventional optical bronchoscopes. Through the support of the SCI Cancer Innovation award, Dr. Liu aims to study the dosimetric advantage of HDR brachytherapy to peripheral lung tumors vs. the established SABR technique.