Varian Medical Systems Announces Image-Guided Radiotherapy Treatment Planning Software | Varian

Varian Medical Systems Announces Image-Guided Radiotherapy Treatment Planning Software

PALO ALTO, Calif., July 17, 2003 Varian Medical Systems, Inc. (NYSE:VAR) has released a new version of its Eclipse™ 3D radiotherapy treatment
planning software for image-guided radiotherapy using combinations of PET, CT,
and MRI.  The company has also received 510(k) clearance from the U.S.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market an Electron Monte Carlo (eMC)
dose calculation option for electron radiotherapy.  The Eclipse release
and the eMC option will be exhibited at the American Association of Physicists
in Medicine (AAPM) meeting in San Diego, CA, August 10-14, 2003.

The New Eclipse Release

The latest Eclipse release harnesses the power of multimodality imaging to
improve radiotherapy treatment targeting.  It can combine images from
PET, CT, and MRI systems to create conformal treatment plans that target
tumors while minimizing the exposure of surrounding tissues and organs. 
The Eclipse system is part of Varian Medical Systems’ broad initiative to
develop and offer, to radiation oncology departments, tools for integrating
powerful imaging capabilities into treatment planning and treatment delivery.

"While CT images have long been used for treatment planning, radiation
oncologists are now seeking to blend them with imaging modalities like PET and
MRI," said Corey Zankowski, PhD, Varian's treatment planning product
manager.  "CT and MR scans provide good anatomical data, while PET
highlights the most metabolically active parts of a tumor.  Blending the
different kinds of images helps doctors to see the extent of the tumor more
clearly and thus develop more precise treatment plans."

Varian's Eclipse software incorporates advanced treatment planning, graphics,
simulation, and dose visualization tools.  In this release, Varian has
enhanced the user interface, and has automated such functions as image
registrationsomething that was previously a manual process.  Data from
different imaging modalities are easily superimposed and can be displayed
several ways.   The graphical display has been enhanced to make it
easier to see anatomical structures and the 3D dose distributions.

Varian also added several data processing features, including the ability to
export data and statistics to the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG), a
research organization sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), so
that institutions using Eclipse software can participate in national studies
of dosimetry and radiotherapy outcomes.

The Electron Monte Carlo Dose Calculation Option

The new eMC dose calculation option provides enhanced planning capability for
electron radiotherapy, an approach that is often appropriate for superficial
cancers.  The eMC algorithm has been integrated to work seamlessly with
the Eclipse™ treatment planning system, functioning alongside other
calculation algorithms for different forms of radiotherapy.

Radiation oncologists treat cancer primarily with either photon (X-ray) or
electron radiation, depending on the location of the tumor and other medical
considerations.  Photon (X-ray) radiation is generated by accelerating
electrons to a very high speed and colliding them with a tungsten
target.  Varian Medical Systems' Clinac® medical linear
accelerators can deliver photon and/or electron radiation, the latter by
causing the electrons to bypass the tungsten target for direct delivery to the

According to Jeff Amacker, manager of Varian's treatment planning business,
there are clinical advantages to treating some superficial cancers with
electrons instead of photons.  "Electrons are ideal for treating
superficial tumors because their dose deposition falls off rapidly.  They
don’t penetrate the body as deeply as photons do, so they enable
radiation oncologists to protect the healthy tissues located behind the

"Varian is committed to the continuous improvement of our treatment planning
system," said Zankowski.  "By adding the new Electron Monte Carlo dose
calculation algorithm, we have taken another step toward more precise
treatment planning for electron radiotherapy."