SOFIA, Bulgaria, Nov. 30, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Cancer patients in Bulgaria have gained access to advanced radiotherapy treatments for the first time with the installation of a new treatment machine from Varian Medical Systems (NYSE: VAR). Queen Giovanna University Hospital in the capital Sofia has installed a RapidArc®-equipped Clinac® iX linear accelerator to replace a cobalt machine installed in 1964.
Two cervical cancer patients have become the first people treated on the new equipment, which enables image-guided IMRT (intensity modulated radiotherapy) treatments to be delivered in very short timescales, enabling the busy hospital to introduce more advanced treatments without increasing waiting lists.
The new radiotherapy department was recently inaugurated in the presence of the prime minister Boiko Borisov and minister of health Dr. Konstantinov of Bulgaria, hosted by Professor Boico Koroukov, executive director of the Queen Giovanna University Hospital, who has played a prominent role in the project by positioning radiation oncology among the top disciplines for the hospital to develop.
"Our new machine is replacing a very old cobalt machine and we are now able to make big advances from radiotherapy treatments of the 1970s to the most modern available," says Professor Tatiana Hadjieva, M.D., Ph.D., head of the hospital's radiotherapy department. "Until now we have had to use images from the diagnostic CT and we have planned treatments manually, without any automated treatment planning system. It has not been ideal."
"This is the first step in bringing Bulgaria into the modern age of cancer treatments but our effort to bring the country into line with standards elsewhere in the world continues," says Prof. Hadjieva, who argues that modern radiotherapy is one of the most cost-effective means of treating cancer.
"Our new Varian machine is only the fourth linear accelerator in the country and by far the most modern," adds Prof. Hadjieva, who said 13,500 cancer patients had been treated in Bulgaria in 2010 and this was expected to grow to 14,500 in 2011. Until now, Bulgaria's population of seven million people has been served by two old linear accelerators in Plovdiv and a more modern machine at a private hospital in Sofia, along with a number of older cobalt machines. The hospital's expertise in radiotherapy extends to involvement in national trials into hypo-fractionated and accelerated radiotherapy in advanced head and neck cancers.
Vincent Ronfle, Varian's regional sales manager, said, "This achievement at Queen Giovanna Hospital is particularly remarkable because it allows for a quantum leap in treatment quality without impacting the hospital's ability to treat a very large number of patients, and this is thanks to the efficiency of the RapidArc treatment.
"In addition to supplying the equipment, we carried out a comprehensive education and training program for staff to ensure they felt comfortable adopting these new techniques. We have the largest education and applications team in the industry, which has worked closely with the local teams in order to make this a reality. What's particularly exciting about this project is that it marks the first step in what will hopefully be an ongoing contribution to help improve the status of cancer care in the region and the country."
The advanced RapidArc system delivers precise image-guided IMRT up to four times faster than conventional IMRT. Studies show that faster treatments allow for greater precision, since there is less chance of patient or tumor movement during treatment delivery. Clinicians also observe that faster treatments make the procedures easier and more comfortable for patients who spend less time immobilized.
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 5,300 people who are located at manufacturing sites in North America, Europe, and China and approximately 70 sales and support offices around the world. For more information, visit http://www.varian.com.
SOURCE Varian Medical Systems, Inc.