PRETORIA, South Africa, Jan. 18, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- A 66-year-old prostate cancer patient has become the first person in Africa to be treated using fast and efficient RapidArc® technology from Varian Medical Systems (NYSE: VAR). The man received his treatment at the Netcare Unitas Hospital in the Pretoria suburb of Centurion, the largest private hospital in sub-Saharan Africa.
The advanced RapidArc system, which has been introduced clinically on the hospital's Varian Clinac® iX medical linear accelerator, delivers precise image-guided IMRT (intensity modulated radiotherapy) up to four times faster than conventional IMRT. The RapidArc IMRT beam quickly delivers the dose while continuously rotating around the patient. Studies* show that faster treatments allow for greater precision, since there is less chance of patient or tumor movement during treatment delivery and, with less time on the treatment couch, also allow for greater patient comfort.
"The first treatment went very smoothly and was completed in just two and a half minutes," said Stanley Makgere, medical physicist in charge, adding that just two arcs were needed during treatment delivery. "Our team has experience in many treatment methods and we feel this is the best way to treat cancer patients with radiation because it is fast, precise and easy to use.
"RapidArc will benefit our patients in a number of ways but most importantly it will reduce the dose to critical structures and allow the clinicians to increase the dose to cancerous tissues." The speed of the system will also make it possible for the hospital to treat more cancer patients with state of the art technology.
Mr. Makgere said his team intends to use RapidArc for prostate and head/neck cancer patients before introducing more complex procedures such as extra-cranial stereotactic treatments, which involve the use of very high-dose beams to quickly attack certain types of tumors in areas like the lung, liver, or spine. Prior to the installation of the advanced Clinac iX linear accelerator – which was ordered in 2009 -- the hospital's radiotherapy department was equipped with a single energy machine with no beam-shaping accessories, so the new technology enables patients to benefit from far more advanced techniques than previously possible.
The 470-bed Netcare Unitas Hospital is the flagship of the Netcare group's 54 private hospitals across South Africa, offering world-class healthcare services to patients from across Pretoria, Johannesburg, Mpumalanga and Swaziland. The radiotherapy department treats about 300 new patients annually.
"South Africa has always kept abreast of global developments in cancer treatment but the number of linear accelerators per capita in both the public and private sectors is still very low compared to other countries," says Dr. Makgere. "With great distances between cities, the treatment centers are not easily accessible to many communities and there are still long waiting lists for treatment in public sector hospitals. Here at Netcare Unitas however, we are generally able to start treating patients within two weeks of diagnosis and one week after referral to our facility by the radiation oncologist."
Fritz Derrer, Varian's regional sales manager, said, "The team at Netcare Unitas has been able to introduce RapidArc just a few weeks after first introducing conventional IMRT, which is testament to the capability of the team and the ease of use of the system. Along with our local representative Tecmed Africa, we are honored to be working with this pioneering hospital to introduce advanced techniques for the benefit of cancer patients in South Africa."
Editorial contact: Neil Madle, Varian Medical Systems, +44 7786 526068
About Varian Medical Systems
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 5,300 people who are located at manufacturing sites in North America, Europe, and China and approximately 70 sales and support offices around the world. For more information, visit http://www.varian.com.
About Tecmed Africa
VMS is represented by Tecmed Africa (Pty) Ltd in sub Saharan Africa. Founded in 1992, Tecmed Africa (Pty) Ltd has evolved into the leading provider of medical equipment in Africa. Tecmed Africa is dedicated to customer and after sales service, with factory trained technical and support staff, 24 hour, seven days a week back up.
Published papers on this topic:
Kjaer-Kristoffersen F., Ohlhues L., Medin J., Korreman S. RapidArc volumetric modulated therapy planning for prostate cancer patients. Acta Oncology. 2008:48 (2): 227-32
Using Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy. International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics 1 Sept. 2009: 253-259. ScienceDirect. Web. 26 Oct. 2009
Palma D., Vollans E., James K., Nakano S., Moiseenko V, Shaffer R., McKenzie M., Morris J., Otto K. Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy for Delivery of Prostate Radiotherapy: Comparison With Intensity-Modulated Radiotherapy and Three-Dimensional Conformal Radiotherapy International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics, Volume 72, Issue 4, 15 November 2008, Pages 996-1001
Zhang P., Happersett L., Hunt M., Jackson A., Zelefsky M., Mageras G. Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy: Planning and Evaluation for Prostate Cancer Cases. International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology* Physics, [Epub ahead of print]
SOURCE Varian Medical Systems