Feature | Radiation Oncology | February 01, 2017 | By Rachael Bennett, BHS, R.T.(R)(T)

Advances in Radiation Oncology

The radiation oncology market continues to progress, with new advancements such as the increased availability of proton therapy and the eagerly awaited MRI-guided linear accelerator

oncology analytics

Mosaiq Oncology Analytics is a cloud-based solution that integrates with multiple systems, so the user can leverage the information within and beyond the oncology department.

MRI-guided radiation treatment delivery

The historic ViewRay MRIdian system was the world’s first FDA-cleared MRI-guided radiation treatment delivery system capable of image acquisition and treatment at the same time.

High Definition Radiotherapy (HDRT)

With Varian HyperArc High Definition Radiotherapy (HDRT) technology clinicians should be able to deliver more compact radiation doses that closely conform to the size, shape and location of tumors, while sparing more surrounding healthy tissue.

radiation oncology, analytics

Varian’s InSightive Analytics provides insight into opportunities for clinical, operational and financial improvement.

In 2016, the America Cancer Society expected 1,685,210 new cancer diagnoses in the United States alone. And according to the National Cancer Institute, approximately half of all patients diagnosed with cancer will undergo radiation therapy as part of their treatment plan. Given the large number of patients turning to radiation oncology, it is no wonder there is an immense focus on continually advancing this treatment technique. Millions of lives depend upon it.

The basic goal of radiation therapy is to cause damage to the cells where the cancer is located. Healthy cells are able to repair themselves; unhealthy cancer cells, on the other hand, are unable to do so. The result is death of the cancer cells. 

Over the years, radiation treatment techniques have continually focused on sparing healthy surrounding tissue while maximizing the radiation dose to the cancer cells. Treatments have become even more precise with the help of motion management tools and image guidance treatment techniques. While these are all great advancements in the treatment of cancer, the world of radiation therapy now has even more to be excited about. 


Analytics Tools

There has always been a lot of useful information captured through daily activities within a radiation oncology department, but accessing this data in a meaningful fashion could be quite a task. Vendors are now finding ways to compile and format this information into actionable reports. Tools available through applications such as Elekta’s Mosaiq Oncology Analytics and Varian’s InSightive Analytics provide insight into opportunities for clinical, operational and financial improvement. Among numerous other capabilities, these enhancements include the ability to oversee resource utilization and workflow, pinpoint specific areas for cost reduction and ensure consistent quality care across a network of facilities. Information obtained from analytics tools also provides documentation to validate improvement within a department.


Advancements in Linear Accelerator Technology

Traditional linear accelerators (linacs) have come a long way since Rolf Wideroe created the linear accelerator concept in 1927. Advancements over the years have allowed linacs to provide radiation treatments with millimeter accuracy. The majority of linear accelerators available today are so advanced that they have at least some form of optional stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) capabilities.

In June 2016 Accuray announced that it had received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance of its Radixact Treatment Delivery Platform. Along with this system, Accuray also introduced its new oncology information system, the iDMS Data Management System, as well as its new Accuray Precision Treatment Planning System. Building on the TomoTherapy line of products, the Radixact system incorporates a more powerful linear accelerator that allows treatments of up to 1,000 MU per minute, providing improvements to treatment speed and efficiency. The integrated iDMS Data Management System and Accuray Precision Treatment Planning System further improve the treatment process by streamlining workflow and reducing the time required to create treatment plans.

At the 2016 American Society of Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) annual meeting, Varian Medical Systems introduced its HyperArc High Definition Radiotherapy Technology (HDRT). Key benefits of this technology include the ability to offer radiosurgery to a broader range of patients as well as provide improved quality of treatments. Varian’s hope is that this technology will increase access to radiosurgical procedures. HyperArc HDRT is specifically designed for Varian’s TrueBeam or EDGE treatment delivery systems in conjunction with its PerfectPitch six degrees of freedom (6-DoF) couch. Pending U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 510(k) clearance, a September 2016 press release stated that Varian anticipates this technology will be available sometime in 2017.


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