PALO ALTO, Calif., March 19 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Varian Medical Systems (NYSE: VAR) has formed a council of leading cancer centers in North America and Europe to further the development of clinical protocols using its revolutionary RapidArc™ radiotherapy technology for fast and precise cancer treatments. RapidArc makes it possible to deliver advanced image-guided, intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) two to eight times faster than is possible with conventional IMRT or helical tomotherapy.
The RapidArc council members include researchers and scientists from the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, Netherlands; Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark; CRLC Val d'Aurelle in Montpellier, France; University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland; BC Cancer Agency in Vancouver, Canada; University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center in Baltimore, USA; and University of Alabama at Birmingham, Alabama, USA.
The council members have been working with early versions of the Varian RapidArc system to potentially expand clinical applications for the new treatment method. As part of this effort, they intend to develop additional clinical presentations on the new technology for submission to scientific meetings, journals and symposia. In addition, the council members will collaborate with Varian engineers and developers in Switzerland, Finland and the US on future enhancements to the technology.
"RapidArc represents a major medical advance that has the potential to change the way radiation therapy is planned and delivered and the RapidArc Council has already been instrumental in the successful development and introduction of this new technology," said Dow Wilson, president of Varian's Oncology Systems business. "We meet regularly with representatives from these centers to compare experiences and their input is invaluable. We expect that their contributions will help to accelerate the broad deployment and use of RapidArc in cancer treatment centers around the world."
RapidArc delivers a complete volumetric IMRT treatment in a single arc of the treatment machine around the patient. Varian equipment was used to treat a prostate cancer patient with volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) at the BC Cancer Agency in October 2007, making it the world's first VMAT treatment of its kind. Varian has already started taking orders for the RapidArc capability and expects to begin shipping the product in April.
Yves Archambault, RapidArc product manager and coordinator of the RapidArc Council's activities, says, "The product launch is the culmination of work that began early last year and members of the Varian Global Council have already been tremendously helpful in its development. They recognize that RapidArc should make high quality radiotherapy a more affordable, more accessible treatment option, and enable more cancer patients to receive a higher standard of care."
RapidArc also dramatically increases the efficiency of dose utilization and reduces the amount of scattered, non-therapeutic radiation delivered to a patient. According to Luca Cozzi, PhD, Varian's European coordinator of the RapidArc Council and head of research at the Oncology Institute of Southern Switzerland in Bellinzona, this has the potential to further enhance outcomes, particularly when extra accuracy can make a big difference -- with pediatric patients, for example. "This is a group with still-developing anatomy and the possibility of very long-term survival," Dr. Cozzi points out, adding that better protection of a child's still-developing cells and organs could prevent health problems and side effects from developing later in life.
Dr. Ben Slotman of VU Medical Center in Amsterdam supports this, saying, "The benefits of fast RapidArc treatments are many. Faster treatment delivery has not only an economic benefit because more patients can be treated within the same time, but it has clinical benefits as well. The risk of movement of the patient during treatment is also smaller, and faster treatments are of course much more comfortable for the patients. It is also clear that when a dose distribution is more conformal to the tumor or enables better avoidance of critical structures, a higher dose can be given, increasing the likelihood of desirable outcomes and lowering the risks of side effects.
"Although it represents a major advance in radiotherapy treatment technology, RapidArc is easy to implement," continues Dr. Slotman. "It requires no major process changes from the physician, physicist, dosimetrist or therapist, as the steps for planning and delivering treatments are virtually unchanged."
"Varian's technology for image-guided radiation therapy was advanced to begin with, and now Varian is adding fast and efficient arc therapy that can be delivered in multiple planes, volumetrically," says William F. Regine, MD, professor and chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and chief of radiation oncology at the University of Maryland Medical Center. "It's a testament to what can happen when the thought leaders in industry work together with innovative clinical researchers. The result is something that makes a practical difference to patient care and to our ability to offer whatever is best for each of our patients."
"Customer interest in RapidArc has been tremendous," adds Dow Wilson. "This technology extends the versatility of Varian's image-guided radiotherapy system, adding volumetric arc therapy to other advanced capabilities including fixed-beam IMRT and stereotactic treatments. No other company offers this level of options for customizing treatments according to each patient's specific needs on one treatment machine."
"Varian is committed to joining forces with clinicians on the development of better treatments for cancer patients and RapidArc demonstrates the success of these collaborations. It's a win for everybody but, most importantly, it's a win for the patients."
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 4,600 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/.
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SOURCE: Varian Medical Systems
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