October 5, 2008 - The Cancer Care of Western New York is the first and only treatment center in the area to offer patients treatment using RapidArc radiotherapy technology from Varian Medical System.
RapidArc delivers image-guided IMRT radiotherapy that targets tumors quickly and accurately while minimizing exposure of surrounding healthy tissue.
"David had to choose between radical surgery or chemotherapy with radiation," said Dr. Shah. "He chose the chemo/radiation combination because it offers the same potential cure rate as surgery while being less invasive and disfiguring."
RapidArc technology makes it possible for Dr. Shah to deliver a precise image-guided IMRT treatment in two minutes or less, which is two to eight times faster than was previously possible with conventional IMRT. "The treatment itself is only about 40-60 seconds; the set-up prior to treatment takes longer," Kelver said. "I never had conventional radiation but I can tell you, I would not like to have to lay there immobilized on a table for 30 minutes each day instead of ten."
Dr. Shah's clinical team compared a RapidArc treatment plan with one for conventional IMRT and found that the RapidArc plan spared more of Kelver's salivary glands and the rest of his oral cavity. "Prior forms of radiation therapy might have severely compromised his salivary function, which can lead to a permanent and severe dry mouth condition that would have affected his eating, digestion, taste, and dental health," Dr. Shah said. "With the RapidArc treatment, we'll have a good chance of avoiding or minimizing these kinds of debilitating side effects."
According to Dr. Shah, RapidArc technology is now being used to treat prostate, lung, and brain cancer. "A father and son, 76 and 43 years of age, are among the patients currently undergoing RapidArc treatment for prostate cancer," he said. "We looked at RapidArc plans as compared with conventional IMRT for these types of cases, and concluded that the RapidArc approach does a better job of protecting the rectum and the bladder. And with treatments being completed so quickly, these two can get in and out of the office faster and spend more quality time together."
"With earlier forms of radiation therapy, once a tumor spreads to this degree, you have to limit the dose because of all the healthy lung tissue you would otherwise damage during treatment," Dr. Shah explained. "The RapidArc treatment plan does a great job of sparing his healthy lung tissue, so we can deliver the kind of higher dose that has a chance of eradicating the tumor, and we can do it in daily treatments that take less than two minutes to deliver. Conventional IMRT treatments would have taken 10-15 minutes per day."
Dr. Shah points out that faster treatments have the potential to improve accuracy further, because there is less chance of the patient moving during a shorter treatment. "With RapidArc, we are comfortable that our patients are receiving treatments that are at least equivalent and in some cases superior to conventional IMRT treatments, in terms of normal tissue sparing, even though the process is fast for our patients."
For more information: www.varian.com