Varian-Equipped Proton Therapy Center Becomes First Hospital to Offer Intensity-Modulated Proton Therapy (IMPT) Cancer Treatments | Varian

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Varian-Equipped Proton Therapy Center Becomes First Hospital to Offer Intensity-Modulated Proton Therapy (IMPT) Cancer Treatments

MUNICH, Dec. 14, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- A leading cancer clinic in Germany has become the first hospital in the world equipped to provide clinical treatments using intensity modulated proton therapy (IMPT), a precise and fast way to deliver conformal proton therapy treatments. Rinecker Proton Therapy Center in Munich is able to provide advanced IMPT treatments thanks to improvements in the scanning delivery system enabled by equipment provider Varian Medical Systems (NYSE: VAR). The hospital has also reached a landmark by bringing its fourth treatment gantry into clinical use.

"The advantage of IMPT over other forms of proton therapy is the potential for improved dose conformity and better sparing of dose to critical structures," says Dr. Joerg Hauffe, chief executive officer of ProHealth, the center's operating company. "By including IMPT in our clinical program, we can be very flexible in planning our therapies and use the full potential of these advanced treatments for the benefit of our patients. Proton therapy is already recognized as a very effective way of targeting tumors while minimizing dose to surrounding healthy tissue and this allows even greater precision."

As the world leader in conventional radiotherapy, Varian has been at the forefront of advances in treatment precision including intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) and image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT). "We recognized the potential of IMPT when we entered the proton therapy field," says Moataz Karmalawy, head of Varian's particle therapy group. Scanning beam technology combines a high quality of care with the potential for higher patient throughput and improved cost efficiency, and we believe it will improve the economics and effectiveness of proton therapy."  

Unlike conventional X-ray based radiotherapy where the beam passes completely through the body, proton therapy destroys tumors by delivering heavier particles that stop at specified depths within the anatomy, thereby reducing exposure to healthy tissue. Scanning beam technology enables IMPT by modulating dose levels on a spot-by-spot basis throughout the treatment area. Irradiations from multiple angles are combined in a clever way to improve control of dose distributions. Scanning beam technology also eliminates the time-consuming need to manually insert separate shaping accessories for each beam angle in order to match the beam to the shape of the tumor.

"It's a real landmark that Rinecker Proton Therapy Center has become the first hospital to offer IMPT to treat patients," adds Karmalawy, pointing out that the Paul Scherer Institute PSI in Switzerland, which uses a Varian cyclotron to generate protons, was the first to carry out IMPT treatments in a research environment. "Varian is proud to be part of this world-leading project and we are fully committed to making proton therapy available for more patients."

Four Gantries

"The commissioning of our fourth and final treatment gantry enables us to increase our ability to treat more patients," says Dr. Hauffe. "We can make efficient use of this life-saving technology by switching the proton beam between rooms so we can treat in one room while we're setting up a patient for treatment in the other rooms. Our next and final commissioning is for a fixed beam room which will focus on eye tumors and small tumors in the head and neck region."

IMPT has been made possible following technological advances by Varian. "We have improved the beam delivery precision to less than 1mm, enhancing the delivery of IMPT," says John Braze, installations program manager for Varian Particle Therapy. "Improved precision reduces the constraints in the optimization process, allowing a quality of dose distribution that was previously not possible."

In addition, RPTC has been provided with a software upgrade which enables clinicians to make use of new 'repainting' functionality. This functionality allows clinicians to treat moving targets by splitting the dose into multiple sweeps of the scanning beam. This technology also helps to optimize the dose to the tumor while minimizing the dose to normal healthy tissue.

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

SOURCE Varian Medical Systems, Inc.