Starting in 2002, the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group in North America began the process of developing multicenter prospective trials in lung cancer using Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT). Much of the work was based on the prospective single institution trials from Indiana University that had been presented and published. In late 2004, RTOG 0236 using SBRT for medically inoperable patients with clinical stage I non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) was activated for accrual. Prior to activation, representatives from the Lung, Image-Guided Therapy, Physics, and Radiobiology Committees met on regular occasions to design the multicenter study and quality assurance measures. SBRT is not a black box, and the essence of the therapy had to be distilled via guidelines. Issues related to patient selection, method of dosimetry construction, equipment requirements, motion assessments and control, site accreditation, data exchange, and follow-up policies were worked out by compromise and consensus. RTOG 0236 has nearly completed its accrual. The Lung Committee has initiated the development of several other trials, each building on the last, to investigate the therapy in central tumors, in combinations with systemic therapy, in operable patients, and in lung metastases patients. The guidelines developed for RTOG 0236 will be refined to take advantage of more modern innovations including heterogeneity corrections and intensity modulation when appropriate. The development of RTOG 0618 using SBRT in operable patients with early stage NSCLC is a testament to both the enthusiasm from already published works and prospective multicenter clinical testing using SBRT techniques.
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