DENVER, Oct. 19 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Cancer treatment specialists reported yesterday that advanced imaging technologies from Varian Medical Systems (NYSE: VAR) are helping them target tumors more accurately than ever before, in order to maximize chances of tumor control while protecting the surrounding healthy tissues.
Four experts from leading cancer centers around the world detailed how Varian's On-Board Imager™ device for image-guided radiotherapy is helping them adapt treatments for tumor motion, efficiently improve treatment precision, and establish new standards of care. One speaker provided insight into the future, offering a vision of radiotherapy technology that can detect and follow tumor motion in real time during treatment.
Improving Care Without Lengthening Waiting Lists in New Zealand
"We've been able to improve treatment quality, and we did it without slowing things down," said Diana Stevenson, radiation therapist and treatment supervisor at Christchurch Hospital in New Zealand. "For us, having new technology is all very well and good, but not if it increases treatment times and decreases the number of patients you can treat. Using the On-Board Imager device, clinicians at Christchurch Hospital have been able to treat patients within our normal treatment schedule."
Zeroing in on Prostate Cancer at the MIMA Cancer Center
At the MIMA Cancer Center in Melbourne, Florida, clinicians are using a technique called seed marker matching, which "could be a new standard of care for prostate radiotherapy -- or at least an avenue to novel prostate radiotherapy schemes," according to Todd J. Scarbrough, MD, radiation oncologist. Dr. Scarbrough zeroes in on prostate cancer using a feature of the On-Board Imager that automatically locates implanted seeds and calculates how to shift the patient so that the tumor is directly in the center of the treatment beam.
"Seed marker matching for prostate cancer IGRT is rapid and can be easily incorporated into routine clinical practice. Based on our extensive data and clinical experience with seed marker-based prostate IGRT using the On-Board Imager, we find we can reduce treatment margins substantially when we use this approach for patient positioning," said Scarbrough, who illustrated this point in his presentation using real-time videos of the treatment process.
Using Multiple Imaging Modes at Duke University
Christopher Willett, MD, professor and chair of the radiation oncology department at Duke University, presented several radiographic and cone-beam CT images generated with Varian's On-Board Imager, to demonstrate the amount of anatomical detail that can be seen for making treatment decisions. Willetts' presentation included high-resolution images taken of prostate, breast, and head and neck cases. He also outlined an approach for creating cone-beam images more rapidly using a process called "tomosynthesis."
Research at Virginia Commonwealth University: The Future of IGRT
Paul Keall, PhD, associate professor of medical physics at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), wrapped up the symposium with a futuristic look at technology being developed that will "locate and track a tumor and adjust the treatment beam in direct response to internal or skeletal motion." Technology capable of this "dynamic compensation" approach will detect tumor motion and respond to it in real time by shaping and reshaping the radiation beams-something that is not yet possible in a commercially-available radiotherapy system.
"Right now, IGRT techniques are used to move the patient into better alignment with the treatment beam-and that's a tremendous improvement in targeting accuracy," Dr. Keall said. "With dynamic compensation, we'll be able to locate and follow the tumor and adjust the treatment beam instead of the patient's position."
The presentations were sponsored by Varian in connection with the annual meeting here of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO).
About Varian Medical Systems
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 3,500 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 http://www.varian.com/ .
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Web site: http://www.varian.com/