St. Luke's Cancer Center Offering Cancer Patients Ultra-Precise Image-Guided Radiotherapy Treatments | Varian

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St. Luke's Cancer Center Offering Cancer Patients Ultra-Precise Image-Guided Radiotherapy Treatments

BETHLEHEM, Pa., Oct. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Clinicians at St. Luke's Cancer Center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, are using an advanced form of image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT) to treat patients with cancers of the prostate, head and neck, spine, abdomen and pelvic areas. The Center's new radiotherapy system from Varian Medical Systems (NYSE: VAR) combines imaging and treatment on a single machine, facilitating fast and accurate adaptive radiotherapy.

St. Luke's was the first treatment center in Pennsylvania to install and utilize Varian's new On-Board Imager™ device, a fully robotic Dynamic Targeting™ IGRT system for tracking tumor locations and positioning patients. Doctors at St. Luke's have treated 60 patients using this new technology since launching their IGRT program in May 2005.

Prior to the advent of IGRT and tools like the On-Board Imager device, radiation oncologists have had to contend with daily variations in patient positioning and with normal tumor motion by treating a larger margin of healthy tissue around the tumor. IGRT is expected to enable doctors to minimize the volume of healthy tissue exposed to the treatment beam.

"The On-Board Imager makes it possible for us to realize the full potential of a precise treatment delivery technique like intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)," said Nimisha Deb, MD, chief of radiation oncology at St. Luke's. "With IMRT, we shape the radiation beam so that it closely matches the shape of the tumor. Now, by adding IGRT, we can be confident that the beam will be perfectly lined up with the intended target at the time of daily treatment. This means that, in some cases, we can reduce our margins around the tumor, deliver higher doses to the tumor, and spare more of the surrounding healthy tissues. That, in turn, increases the likelihood of controlling the cancer and reducing complication rates."

While St. Luke's clinicians use IGRT primarily to treat prostate and head and neck cancers, they also recently used the technology to treat a patient with a tumor close to the spinal cord. "IGRT was important for this patient because the dose that we needed to prescribe to the tumor exceeded the tolerance of the spinal cord," Dr. Deb said. "Consequently, it was critical that we deliver the dose accurately every day. Utilizing IGRT allowed us to do this with confidence."

"The On-Board Imager™ enables our therapists to set patients up for their treatments very quickly and accurately," said Tianyou Xue, PhD, chief medical physicist in the Department of Radiation Oncology at St. Luke's. "After positioning the patient for treatment, we use the On-Board Imager to take digital X-ray images of the area to be treated and then compare them with reference images to see if there is any displacement from the ideal. If there is, the system's automated image matching software calculates how the treatment table should be moved so the patient's tumor is lined up directly with the treatment beam. The therapist pushes a button, and the patient is shifted into the correct position. The entire patient set-up process takes no more than three to five minutes. Even with this extra step, a full treatment can be delivered during a normal fifteen-minute radiotherapy treatment appointment."

"The IGRT technology has revolutionized our delivery of the most sophisticated radiation treatments," said Dr. Deb.

About St. Luke's Cancer Center

St. Luke's Cancer Center provides care to more than 2,000 new patients each year, offering general cancer care as well as special programs for melanoma, lung, breast and gastrointestinal cancers. St. Luke's clinicians have extensive experience with advanced forms of radiation therapy. They have treated more than 500 patients with intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) since its introduction in September 2000. The Center is the region's only site offering image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) for daily motion management often in conjunction with IMRT, for extremely precise radiotherapy treatments, as well as SIR-Spheres for the treatment of liver tumors. The Center also offers Mammosite™ treatments for breast cancer permanent seeds for prostate cancer; and robotically-assisted surgery for the treatment of lung and prostate cancer. St. Luke's Radiology Department is a GE Healthcare Super Show Site, offering digital mammography, PET scanning, breast MRI and the Innova 4100 imaging system.

About Varian Medical Systems, Inc.

Varian Medical Systems, Inc., of Palo Alto, California is the world's leading manufacturer of integrated cancer therapy systems, which are treating thousands of patients per day. The company is also a premier supplier of X-ray tubes and flat-panel digital subsystems for imaging in medical, scientific, and industrial applications. Varian Medical Systems employs approximately 3,280 people who are located at manufacturing sites in North America and Europe and in its 56 sales and support offices around the world. Additional information is available on the company's web site at

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   Sue Ross, 610-954-4122
   St. Luke's Hospital & Health Network

   Meryl Ginsberg, 650-424-6444
   Varian Medical Systems

SOURCE: St. Luke's Cancer Center