MISSION HILLS, Calif., July 11 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Clinicians at Providence Holy Cross Cancer Center here are using an advanced form of image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) to treat patients with breast, prostate, head and neck, lung, and gynecological cancers. The Center's radiotherapy system from Varian Medical Systems (NYSE: VAR) combines imaging and treatment technologies in a single machine, for fast and accurate radiotherapy that maximizes the dose to the tumor and reduces the side effects of treatment.
"This new approach to treating cancer makes it possible for us to fine-tune our targeting so that we can do a better job of protecting the surrounding tissues during treatment," said Nancy Ellerbroek, MD, medical director for radiation oncology at the Center.
For example, Ellerbroek recently treated a 17-year-old girl for a tumor of the naso-pharynx. "Her tumor was close to her spinal cord and had already invaded the base of her skull and some lymph nodes," Ellerbroek said. "Prior forms of radiation therapy would have destroyed her salivary function. That can lead to a permanently dry mouth and severe dental complications. We also had to be concerned about neurological structures like the brain stem, and the optic nerve. We needed to be extremely accurate with our targeting."
Ellerbroek's team treated the girl every weekday over a seven-week period. Prior to every treatment, they used Varian's On-Board Imager® device, an automated, robotic imager mounted on the treatment machine, to generate high quality images of the tumor and surrounding anatomy. "Those images enabled us to make very fine adjustments to her position, and line up the tumor so it fell squarely into the center of the treatment beam," Ellerbroek said. "This kind of precision was not possible before the advent of image-guided radiotherapy."
The young lady finished her treatment in October. "By the end of the treatment, her breathing problems had resolved, her headaches were gone, and no more signs of cancer were detected," Ellerbroek said. "Her loss of salivary function was only slight -- not the profound loss of function that we would have expected."
According to Ellerbroek, having the ability to generate images on a daily basis is immensely reassuring when she is delivering high doses of radiation to tumors close to critical structures in the body. "It allows me to deliver the powerful doses we know are better at eradicating tumors without cutting corners because we're afraid of getting too close to something crucial," she said. "That means we can target tumors we would have considered untreatable just a year ago. I expect our tumor control rates will improve and our complication rates will be lower, when we've had a chance to study IGRT outcomes over a longer period of time. So far, our experience bears this out."
ABOUT PROVIDENCE HOLY CROSS MEDICAL CENTER
Providence Holy Cross Medical Center is known for providing exceptional treatment through its Cancer Centers, Heart Center, Orthopedics, Neurosciences and Rehabilitation Services, as well as Women's and Children's Services. As a 254-bed, not-for-profit facility, Providence Holy Cross Medical Center offers a full continuum of health services, from outpatient to inpatient to home health care. Providence Holy Cross operates one of the only round-the-clock trauma centers in the San Fernando Valley and surrounding communities.
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 4,300 people who are located at manufacturing sites in North America and Europe and in its 56 sales and support offices around the world. For more information, visit http://www.varian.com/.
FOR INFORMATION CONTACT Dan Boyle, (818) 847-4602 Providence Health System Dan.Boyle@providence.org Meryl Ginsberg, 650-424-6444 Varian Medical Systems firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE: Varian Medical Systems
Web site: http://www.varian.com/