MUNICH, March 11 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Clinicians at the Rinecker Proton Therapy Center (RPTC) in Munich have treated their 100th patient using advanced proton therapy systems supplied by Varian Medical Systems (NYSE: VAR). The landmark treatment comes just three months after a second treatment gantry was commissioned at the center, which offers advanced pencil-beam proton scanning to cancer patients.
These patients, requiring treatment for a wide range of cancers, have come from across Germany and 19 other countries, including Canada, Argentina, the UK and Switzerland. Among the first 100 patients have been several children, as proton therapy's ability to limit exposure to healthy tissue is particularly valuable in pediatric treatments.
A typical pediatric treatment involved a seven-year-old girl suffering from a malignant blastoma in the upper neck area. "The tumor was too large for surgery and had continued growing during chemotherapy, so proton therapy seemed the best treatment option," says Professor Manfred Herbst, medical director at RPTC. "She has tolerated the therapy extremely well – the tumor was obstructing her nose but her breathing has improved as the tumor has shrunk, and she had no difficulty in swallowing. Also, due to the unique properties of proton scanning we were able to spare the left parotid gland from exposure during treatment and she did not suffer from 'dry mouth,' where it is difficult to produce saliva. Her mother has reported that the girl has already become stronger and more active during the course of therapy."
Unlike conventional X-ray based radiotherapy that utilizes photons and electrons, proton therapy involves delivering heavier proton particles to destroy tumors. Proton therapy enables oncologists to improve dose control and limit exposure to healthy tissue while treating cancer and other indications. As a result, proton technology has moved from research facilities into active cancer treatment clinics such as RPTC.
Patients at RPTC are currently treated in two gantry rooms, each equipped to offer state-of-the-art pencil-beam proton scanning. When completed, the center will comprise a total of four gantry rooms and one fixed-beam room, the latter of which will specialize in treating delicate tumors such as small head, neck and eye cancers and tumors close to the spinal cord. The two additional gantry rooms are due to be ready for clinical treatment during 2010.
Dr. Joerg Hauffe, chief executive officer of ProHealth, the center's operating company, said RPTC benefits from being able to offer Varian's pencil-beam spot scanning delivery method, which offers distinct performance advantages for more precise dose distribution than is possible with other proton delivery systems. "We believe pencil-beam scanning is the best approach for patients because you can more easily and effectively shape the dose distribution as necessary and lessen exposure to critical organs such as the spinal cord, which is difficult to achieve using the standard scattering proton technique employed by most other proton centers," said Dr. Hauffe.
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 5,100 people who are located at manufacturing sites in North America, China, and Europe and in its 79 sales and support offices around the world. For more information, visit http://www.varian.com/
About the Rinecker Proton Therapy Center
The Rinecker Proton Therapy Center in Munich is the first fully certified proton radiation center in Europe, offering a complete hospital setting with five treatment rooms (gantries) for 4000 patients per year. This euro 150 Million facility was established at the initiative of Munich physician Dr. Hans Rinecker PhD and is equipped with some of the most modern and precise proton therapy equipment available worldwide. Sophisticated MRI, CT and PET-CT systems offer precise diagnostics for 3D proton radiation therapy planning. For more information, visit www.rptc.de
SOURCE Varian Medical Systems, Inc.