AMSTERDAM, July 6, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Details of advances in the use of stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) to treat early stage lung cancer in both high risk operable and inoperable cases were presented at the biennial World Conference for Lung Cancer (WCLC) here in Amsterdam today, including significant improvements in survival of elderly lung cancer patients in the Netherlands as a result of more advanced SBRT treatments.

A study into survival rates among lung cancer patients in the Netherlands between 2003 and 2009 was one of only four, out of approximately 1900 abstracts, selected for presentation at the WCLC Presidential Symposium. The study(1) was outlined by Dr. Cornelis Haasbeek from VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, where patients are treated on six advanced medical linear accelerators from radiosurgery world leader Varian Medical Systems (NYSE: VAR). This hospital has pioneered the use of SBRT in the Netherlands, involving higher doses being delivered in fewer sessions with greater precision than is usual with conventional radiotherapy.

The team at VU used the country's comprehensive population registry to monitor the survival rates of lung cancer patients aged 75 or older. Whereas previous population studies in North Holland have shown increased survival rates of up to seven months through the use of SBRT, latest research on data from the entire Dutch population of 16 million shows the average survival rate after SBRT jumps by 9.3 months in this frail population from 16.8 months to 26.1 months. "This improvement in survival rates for SBRT patients is nothing short of spectacular for a disease that is difficult to treat by any method," says Prof. Senan.

The VU study also showed a slight increase in survival rates for patients treated surgically in the Netherlands and no difference in survival rates for untreated patients.

"In the Netherlands, SBRT is now preferable to conventional radiotherapy for treating lu