PALO ALTO, Calif., Nov. 6 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- During his annual physical check-up in March, David Kelver's doctor noticed he'd never had his tonsils out, and remarked that the right one looked a bit swollen. The doctor concluded, however, that the problem was minor and would clear up on its own, and sent him home. Several months later, Kelver, a 58-year-old engineer, noticed a lump in his neck. It turned out to be cancer that had started in his tonsil and spread to his lymph nodes.
That was the bad news. Some good news followed, however. Kelver found his way to Dhiren Shah, M.D., radiation oncologist at Cancer Care of Western New York, the first and only treatment center in the area to offer patients treatment using RapidArc™ radiotherapy technology from Varian Medical Systems (NYSE: VAR). RapidArc, a new weapon in the fight against cancer, is a highly-precise form of radiotherapy that targets tumors quickly and accurately while minimizing exposure of surrounding healthy tissue.
"David had to choose between radical surgery or chemotherapy with radiation," said Dr. Shah. "He chose the chemo/radiation combination because it offers the same potential cure rate as surgery while being less invasive and disfiguring."
RapidArc technology makes it possible for Dr. Shah to deliver a precise image-guided IMRT treatment in two minutes or less, which is two to eight times faster than was previously possible with conventional IMRT. "The treatment itself is only about 40-60 seconds; the set-up prior to treatment takes longer," Kelver said. "I never had conventional radiation but I can tell you, I would not like to have to lay there immobilized on a table for 30 minutes each day instead of ten."
Dr. Shah's clinical team compared a RapidArc treatment plan with one for conventional IMRT and found that the RapidArc plan spared more of Kelver's salivary glands and the rest of his oral cavity. "Prior forms of radiation therapy might have severely compromised his salivary function, which can lead to a permanent and severe dry mouth condition that would have affected his eating, digestion, taste, and dental health," Dr. Shah said. "With the RapidArc treatment, we'll have a good chance of avoiding or minimizing these kinds of debilitating side effects."
"I've finished seven treatment sessions out of 33. I have a ways to go, but so far, I'm eating and drinking fine; there's been no impact in that respect," Kelver said. "Today, I pulled the patio furniture in and worked in the yard, because we're expecting snow tonight. I plan to continue working while I'm in treatment, because it's a great distraction.
According to Dr. Shah, RapidArc technology is now being used to treat prostate, lung, and brain cancer. "A father and son, 76 and 43 years of age, are among the patients currently undergoing RapidArc treatment for prostate cancer," he said. "We looked at RapidArc plans as compared with conventional IMRT for these types of cases, and concluded that the RapidArc approach does a better job of protecting the rectum and the bladder. And with treatments being completed so quickly, these two can get in and out of the office faster and spend more quality time together."
Another patient, Raymond Kelly, is a 72-year-old man with stage 3 lung cancer that has spread to his lymph nodes on both sides. "With earlier forms of radiation therapy, once a tumor spreads to this degree, you have to limit the dose because of all the healthy lung tissue you would otherwise damage during treatment," Dr. Shah explained. "The RapidArc treatment plan does a great job of sparing his healthy lung tissue, so we can deliver the kind of higher dose that has a chance of eradicating the tumor, and we can do it in daily treatments that take less than two minutes to deliver. Conventional IMRT treatments would have taken 10-15 minutes per day."
Dr. Shah points out that faster treatments have the potential to improve accuracy further, because there is less chance of the patient moving during a shorter treatment. "With RapidArc, we are comfortable that our patients are receiving treatments that are at least equivalent and in some cases superior to conventional IMRT treatments, in terms of normal tissue sparing, even though the process is fast for our patients."
Clinical studies on radiotherapy have correlated the ability to spare more healthy tissue with reduced complications and better outcomes. Other studies suggest that faster treatments may lead to a higher cancer cell kill rate. The American Cancer Society estimates that, in 2008 there will be 1.4 million new cases of cancer in the United States, with over 97,000 of those occurring in New York State.
About Cancer Care of Western New York
Cancer Care of Western New York offers cancer patients the environment and expertise they need for an optimal chance of cure with minimal disruption to their lives. The highly specialized resources available at Cancer Care of Western New York can be found at only a small percentage of leading cancer centers across the country, and include board certified radiation oncologists, new facilities & technology, and compassionate support teams. We are proud to be the first treatment center in Western New York to offer RapidArc™ radiotherapy from Varian Medical Systems. Unlike a large institution, Cancer Care's singular focus allows the physicians and staff the time to get to know each patient, and to serve their individualized needs around the clock. The staff is specially trained to help patients with all types of cancer including breast, prostate, head & neck, brain, and lung. We are committed to helping patients understand the complexities of their condition, and to making the treatment experience as comfortable and effective as possible. Cancer Care of Western New York is a division of WNY Urology Associates, LLC, a multi-specialty group practice that specializes in radiation oncology and urology.
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 4,800 people who are located at manufacturing sites in North America and Europe and in its 60 sales and support offices around the world. For more information, visit http://www.varian.com/.
FOR INFORMATION CONTACT: Meryl Ginsberg, Varian Medical Systems 650-424-6444 or firstname.lastname@example.org Jennifer Zivis, Cancer Care of Western NY 716-844-5519 or email@example.com
SOURCE: Varian Medical Systems, Inc.
Web site: http://www.varian.com/