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Community Care Physicians begin treating cancer patients with Varian's RapidArc radiotherapy system

Varian : 26 August, 2008  (Application Story)
Clinicians from the Image Guided Radiation Therapy programme at Community Care Physicians in Latham have started to treat cancer patients using Varian Medical Systems’ RapidArc radiotherapy technology.
The system delivers a highly-precise image-guided, intensity-modulated Radiotherapy (IMRT) treatment in two minutes or less.

RapidArc treatments spare healthy tissue and other vital organs in the body by adapting to the shape and size of a patient's tumour. These treatments can be completed more quickly than conventional image guide IMRT because they are delivered with a single continuous rotation of the Radiotherapy machine around the patient rather than treating the tumour from fixed positions.

Donald Shorkey, 71, an early-stage prostate cancer patient, was the first person to receive RapidArc treatments through this programme. 'I was immensely relieved when the doctors and nurses explained to me and my wife that RapidArc treatments focus just on the tumour.'

'Earlier technology for Radiotherapy limited the number of angles we could use for striking at a tumor,' said Arun Puranik, MD, director of the Image Guided Radiation Therapy programme. 'With RapidArc technology, we are seeing excellent treatment plans that permit us to target the tumor from nearly every angle in a 360-degree circle around the patient. The impressive thing is that, when we use RapidArc to target the tumor from more angles, we can deliver a treatment using less radiation. And it only takes two minutes.'

The Image Guided Radiation Therapy programme at Community Care Physicians was one of the earliest adopters of IGRT technology, and began offering image-guided IMRT treatments for prostate cancer back in August 2005. 'The vast majority of our patients since then have had no complications, following treatment,' said Puranik. 'I couldn't imagine how we would improve on that. But with RapidArc, we have. We can get the same results two to eight times faster than was possible with our earlier technology.'

By completing highly-precise IMRT treatment so much faster, Puranik said, his clinical team members can spend more time with patients or completing administrative tasks. 'Whereas we generally treated four patients each hour, RapidArc is making it possible for us to treat up to five patients an hour, with plenty of time in between appointments. Having extra time for administrative tasks will help us ensure that charges are captured correctly, and cut back on time-consuming billing errors.'

Shorkey is now finishing his third week of a nine-week course of radiotherapy, and reports that, to his surprise, he doesn't feel anything during the treatments. 'I've been pleased with the thoughtful and efficient care I've been getting at Image Guided Radiation Therapy,' said Shorkey. 'I'm in the treatment room for only about five minutes per session. Because I live so close to the care centre, I'm only away from home about an hour each day. The doctors told me that I was one of the very first patients in the Northeast to receive treatments using this technology. I think it is wonderful that people are inventing these devices. It is a miracle as far as I'm concerned.'
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