January 6, 2009 - A pancreatic cancer patient at the Humanitas Clinic in Milan, Italy has become the first person in Italy to be treated with Varian’s RapidArc, which is designed to enable doctors to improve outcomes while extending more advanced care to more patients.
"We see three major benefits with RapidArc," added Dr. Marta Scorsetti, lead clinician at Humanitas. "The short treatment time -- under two minutes in this case -- decreases the chances of the patient moving during treatment, which helps to improve precision. RapidArc enables us to spare more healthy tissue from receiving unnecessary dose and we believe this additional precision will enable us to increase the dose, which should contribute to a higher cure rate."
With RapidArc, Varian's Clinac medical linear accelerator can target radiation beams at a tumor while rotating continuously around the patient. Conventional intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) treatments are slower and more difficult for radiotherapy radiographers and patients because they target tumors using a complex sequence of fixed beams from multiple angles.
"The patient reacted very well to the new treatment and he was comfortable throughout the two minutes he was on the treatment table,” said Dr. Scorsetti. “As the overall treatment time was reduced, we will be able to treat more patients and consequently reduce waiting times."
Dr. Scorsetti said pancreatic cancers are not traditional candidates for complex treatments with intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) but the introduction of RapidArc means that such patients as well as prostate and head and neck cancer patients can now receive the most advanced radiotherapy treatments in a short time.
Humanitas, one of the largest hospitals in the Milan urban area, serves up to three million people and treats 150 patients a day in the radiotherapy department. The clinic treats patients using three Varian Clinac accelerators, one of which is equipped with an On-Board Imager device that is necessary for the delivery of RapidArc treatments.
Doctors at Humanitas believe the volumetric arc therapy treatments offered by RapidArc are at the cutting edge of patient care. "While helical tomotherapy has been introduced for specialty treatments by some centers in Italy, we are going a big step further by introducing a volumetric treatment approach that is much faster and far more comfortable for the patient," said Urso Gaetano, a medical physicist at the hospital. "What multi-slice CT scanning did for CT, RapidArc does for radiotherapy."
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