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New volumetric arc therapy (VMAT) treats prostate cancer patient in less than two minutes

Varian : 09 November, 2007  (New Product)
Clinicians at BC Cancer Agency in Vancouver, Canada have used volumetric arc therapy (VMAT) from Varian Medical Systems to treat a prostate cancer patient with a far faster and more precise form of radiotherapy.
Believed to be the first of its type in the world the treatment was able to deliver a single treatment to the BC Cancer Agency’s 72-year-old patient in less than two minutes.

The VMAT treatment is an advanced form of intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), which has the potential to measurably improve treatment precision by sparing more healthy tissue in addition to making treatments much faster and more comfortable for patients. It was made possible by software innovations developed by BC Cancer Agency clinicians together with an advanced medical linear accelerator and beam-shaping accessory from Varian Medical Systems of Palo Alto, California, USA.

Karl Otto, PhD, a medical physicist at the BC Cancer Agency, developed a special software algorithm that made it possible for his clinic to deliver the VMAT treatment. 'The algorithm is designed to generate highly conformal dose distributions while taking advantage of the specific capabilities of the Varian linear accelerator,' he said.

Building on Otto's work, Varian engineers have developed Varian's new RapidArc Radiotherapy technology, which was exhibited for the first time at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO) in Los Angeles last week.

Varian's RapidArc product for VMAT can deliver intensity-modulated Radiotherapy treatments two to eight times faster than was previously possible. It is currently pending FDA 510(k) clearance and not yet available for sale in the United States.

'VMAT creates a precisely sculpted 3D dose distribution by tailoring the shape and intensity of the beam from a full 360 degrees around the patient,' explains Dr. Otto. 'It provides more flexibility in maximizing the dose of radiation targeting the tumour while minimising damage to surrounding healthy tissue.'

Unlike more conventional treatment techniques where machines must rotate several times around the patient or make repeated intermittent stops and starts to treat individual fields from a number of different beam angles, VMAT technology makes it possible to deliver the dose to the entire tumour volume in a single rotation around the patient.

'This is certainly the next generation of radiation therapy delivery,' says Dr Ivo Olivotto, acting provincial radiation therapy programme leader, BC Cancer Agency. 'Besides the benefits to patients, what's really exciting about VMAT is that it maximises the capabilities of our current technology.'

'These developments will make it possible for clinicians to deliver the most advanced and precise forms of radiation therapy like IMRT in a small fraction of the time it now takes,' said Dow Wilson, president of Varian's Oncology Systems business. 'We have translated the BC Cancer Agency research into a product that can impact the quality of care around the world while reducing cancer patient waiting lists and making radiation therapy more affordable.'
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