Bay Medical & Bay Regional Cancer Center Now Treating Cancer Patients Using RapidArc™ Radiotherapy Technology, a Fast, Precise Cancer Treatment
September 9, 2009
Christa Dean Hild
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Panama City, Forida – Bay Medical & Bay Regional Cancer Center began treating cancer patients in August with RapidArc™ radiotherapy technology, a fast, precise form of treatment using advanced technology from Varian Medical Systems. The $1 million treatment system is two to eight times faster than conventional forms of radiotherapy and its precision enables doctors to target tumors accurately, meaning more radiation to the tumor and less radiation to surrounding healthy tissue.
RapidArc radiotherapy delivers image-guided IMRT (intensity-modulated radiation therapy) in a single rotation of the treatment machine around the patient. Prior to each treatment, a quick CT scan is performed right on the treatment table to line up the real time location of the tumor with the treatment plan. The treatment table then automatically adjusts the patient’s position for millimeter accuracy before treatment begins. The treatment itself lasts only two minutes, compared with 15 to 20 minutes for more traditional IMRT. This increases patient comfort and precision since the patient has to lie perfectly still during treatment for far less time.
“RapidArc makes it possible for us to deliver highly precise IMRT treatments quickly,” said Hasan Murshed, M.D., radiation oncologist. “These treatments target tumors accurately while sparing the surrounding healthy tissues. Because they’re fast, RapidArc treatments are also easier on the patient. It’s hard for people to hold still for long periods of time. By delivering doses more quickly, we can simultaneously improve the quality of care and make our patients more comfortable.”
During the treatment, the radiation beam is shaped and reshaped as it is continuously delivered from virtually every angle in a 360-degree revolution around the patient. The beam shaping is accomplished using a multi-leaf collimator (MLC), which is a device with 120 computer-controlled mechanical “leaves” or “fingers” that move to create apertures of different shapes and sizes. During a RapidArc treatment, specialized software algorithms vary three parameters simultaneously: the speed of rotation around the patient, the shape of the MLC aperture, and the dose delivery rate. Sophisticated treatment plans, generated by computer on the basis of each patient’s unique anatomy and tumor size, shape, and position within the body, guide the treatments.
By reducing the time it takes to deliver IMRT and other precise forms of radiation therapy, RapidArc has the potential to improve the quality of care and patient comfort, while making radiation oncology a more affordable treatment for some types of cancer.
The American Cancer Society estimates that in Florida there are more than 100,000 new cancer patients diagnosed every year.