December 28, 2011 — Clinicians at one of New Zealand's leading hospitals have delivered more than 300 radiotherapy treatments using a newly installed TrueBeam device, from Varian Medical Systems, in the first month of its implementation. The system adds to Wellington Hospital's radiotherapy capabilities and enables fast, precise and efficient treatments.
The first patient in the country — and the southern hemisphere — to be treated with the device was an 18-year-old man with Hodgkin's disease. "He commented on the speed with which the treatment was delivered and was enthusiastic to be our first patient treated on TrueBeam," says Jennifer de Ridder, radiation therapist team leader at Wellington Hospital. "Many of our patients have commented on the speed of their treatments, which is a significant factor for those who are immobilized during treatment."
To manage treatment waiting times in New Zealand, the government recently introduced a target that all patients should commence radiotherapy within four weeks of a decision to treat. "We usually meet this target but need to be more efficient to continue meeting it in future," says Carole Johnson, clinical leader of radiation oncology. "So more advanced treatment techniques must be incorporated without making treatment slots longer and without impacting our ability to meet this waiting time target. TrueBeam helps us to achieve this."
The device at Wellington replaces a 14-year-old treatment machine and enables the hospital to expand its range of radiotherapy treatments; this includes intensity modulated radiotherapy, image-guided radiotherapy, RapidArc volumetric radiotherapy and, in the future, stereotactic radiotherapy.
The TrueBeam platform is a fully integrated radiotherapy system for image-guided radiotherapy and radiosurgery, designed to treat a moving target with speed and precision. It can be used to improve the treatment of lung, breast, prostate, head and neck cancer, among other types. It features a High Intensity Mode—one of six dose levels available to doctors—for customizing dose delivery based on a patient's specific tumor characteristics.
"In addition to improving workflow at the hospital, TrueBeam will enable us to introduce stereotactic body radiotherapy treatments for selected patients in 2012," says Lynne Greig, chief medical physicist. "It clearly positions us for the future while integrating easily with our existing suite of equipment."
Wellington Hospital treats 1,300 patients each year, providing external beam and high dose rate brachytherapy radiation treatments using Varian equipment and software. It is one of just eight radiotherapy departments in the country.
For more information: www.varian.com