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Patients now receiving faster, precise radiotherapy at SJCH's AIS Cancer Center; New Technique Underway

Cancer The AIS Cancer Center at San Joaquin Community Hospital (SJCH) has begun treating cancer patients using the new TrueBeam system from Varian Medical Systems, an innovative medical technology that enables a radically different approach to treating cancer with image-guided radiotherapy.

In fact, Dr. Oscar Streeter, AIS Cancer Center medical director, recently treated a Northern California woman with family ties in Bakersfield, using the center’s TrueBeam system for spinal bone mestastis (a cancerous tumor in the spine region) with image-guided, high-dose radiation. The 73-year-old woman has a tumor located in her mid-back area. And although it is not currently causing her any mobility problems, if the mass were to grow, it would affect her ability to walk, according to Dr. Streeter.

“This is definitely a quality-of-life issue,” he said. “Surgery was not practical in this patient’s case and carried a significantly higher risk of complications – with this image-guided radiotherapy, we are able to target the tumor in a safe, effective manner. The patient is doing remarkably well and has no side effects.”

With dose delivery rates that are 40 percent to 140 percent higher than earlier generations of Varian technology, the TrueBeam system can complete a treatment significantly faster. This makes it possible to offer greater patient comfort by shortening treatment times, and to improve precision by leaving less time for tumor motion during dose delivery. “Intelligent” automation further speeds treatments with an up to five-fold reduction in the number of steps needed for image guidance and dose delivery.

“TrueBeam makes it possible to deliver accurate image-guided treatments within a few minutes per day. At the same time, we can monitor and compensate for tumor motion, and that further increases treatment accuracy,” said Dr. Streeter.

The TrueBeam imager can produce the three-dimensional images used to fine-tune tumor targeting in 60 percent less time than compared with previous Varian image-guided technologies. Additional 
functionality makes it possible to create images using 25 percent less X-ray dose.

“Imaging is an essential part of modern-day, targeted radiotherapy,” explained Dr. Cornforth, SJCH’s chief medical officer, who placed the “fiducial markers” for Dr. Streeter’s patient. “This machine allows us to minimize the amount of X-rays needed to generate an image—and that’s good for our patients.”

A fiducial marker or fiducial is an object placed in the field of view of an imaging system, which appears in the image produced, for use as a point of reference or a measure.

TrueBeam can be used for many forms of advanced treatments such as image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT), including intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), RapidArc® radiotherapy technology and Gated RapidArc.

“Each of these approaches is appropriate for a certain type of clinical situation,” said Dr. Streeter. “With TrueBeam, we can choose the optimal approach for our patients with faster, more accurate treatment with successful results.”