Clinicians complete a prostate cancer treatment in less than two minutes
using volumetric arc therapy (VMAT) with technology from Varian Medical
VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Nov. 9 /CNW/ -- Clinicians at BC Cancer
Agency have treated 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. Using the novel technique, called volumetric arc therapy (VMAT)
clinicians were able to deliver a single treatment to their 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 (NYSE: VAR) of Palo Alto, California.
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(TM) 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 tumor while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy
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 tumor 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 program leader, BC
Cancer Agency. "Besides the benefits to patients, what's really exciting
about VMAT is that it maximizes 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
Varian Medical Systems, Inc., of Palo Alto, California, is the world's
leading manufacturer of medical devices and software for treating cancer and
other medical conditions with radiotherapy, radiosurgery, proton therapy, and
brachytherapy. The company supplies informatics software for managing
comprehensive cancer clinics, radiotherapy centers and medical oncology
practices. Varian is a premier supplier of tubes and digital detectors for
X-ray imaging in medical, scientific, and industrial applications and also
supplies X-ray imaging products for cargo screening and industrial inspection.
Varian Medical Systems employs approximately 4,500 people who are located at
manufacturing sites in North America and Europe and approximately 60 sales and
support offices around the world. For more information, visit
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FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Spencer Sias, (650) 424-5782
Meryl Ginsberg, (650) 424-6444
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