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Californian medical centre pioneers radiotherapy with brain cancer patients

Varian : 30 June, 2008  (Application Story)
The Center for Radiation Therapy of Beverly Hills is the first medical centre in California, USA, to commence treating cancer patients with a new technique utilising RapidArc radiotherapy technology from Varian Medical Systems.
A 77-year-old man with glioblastoma multiforme, a form of brain cancer, was the first to receive a two-minute RapidArc treatment at the centre.

'This patient was an ideal candidate, because RapidArc targets cancerous regions and limits the amount of dose reaching the surrounding healthy tissues,' said Henry Yampolsky, MD, radiation oncologist. 'We always want to avoid hitting healthy tissues, and that was especially important for this particular patient because the tumour is very close to the optic chiasm and brainstem-two critical areas that need to be protected.'

In addition, Dr Yampolsky said that his patient is extremely claustrophobic and has a fear of lying flat, so conventional treatments, which take up to 20 minutes, have been hard for him to tolerate. 'Using RapidArc, we were able to deliver the treatment (in less than four minutes) significantly reducing the amount of time that the patient had to spend on the table.'

RapidArc delivers an advanced image-guided, intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) treatment two to eight times faster than is possible with conventional IMRT or helical tomotherapy.

Prior to each treatment, special imaging technology is used to pinpoint the targeted tumor and line it up so that the radiation is delivered precisely and accurately. Once the patient is properly positioned, the actual treatments are typically delivered in less than two minutes with just a single 360 degree rotation of the treatment machine around the patient.

Yampolsky pointed out that the speed of a RapidArc treatment is important, both for patient comfort and convenience, and also for treatment quality. 'Patients are less likely to move during a treatment that takes less time, which can improve the accuracy of the treatment,' said Yampolsky. 'Over a course of therapy, which typically lasts several weeks with treatments given Monday through Friday, the amount of time saved is considerable.'

'We are committed to being on the leading edge, in terms of our technology and providing patients with the highest standards of care,' said Steven Elconin, executive director. 'Our radiation oncologists determined that RapidArc technology would lead to quicker treatment times and greater patient comfort, and those are some of the benefits we want to provide for our patients.'

'About 1.4 million new cases of cancer are diagnosed in the US each year,' said Christopher Rose, MD, radiation oncologist with the Center. 'Over their lifetimes, one in three women and every other man will develop cancer. Nearly two-thirds will receive radiation therapy as part of their treatment. That adds up to about 23.4 million radiation therapy treatment visits per year. If a technology like RapidArc enables us to help even a fraction of these patients quickly and with high levels of accuracy, it will make a big difference to their quality of life, both during the treatment and, for many patients, long after treatments are over.'

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