July 5, 2011 — Cancer patients in Sweden have gained access to fast and efficient radiotherapy treatments with the installation of Scandinavia's first TrueBeam system from Varian Medical Systems. This advanced system has commenced clinical treatments for patients at Vasteras Hospital, west of Stockholm.
Until recently, physicists and doctors at the busy hospital have been treating 70 patients a day in two shifts between 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. The arrival of the TrueBeam system means more advanced treatments can be delivered in shorter times, potentially enabling a resumption of normal working patterns.
"We have been forced to introduce shifts to keep pace with the patient needs, but TrueBeam will enable us to go back to a normal working day," says head of physics Sture Eklund, M.D. "It will also allow us to introduce advanced treatment techniques, such as stereotactic radiosurgery."
A 71-year-old local man with prostate cancer became the first patient to be treated on the device earlier this month, and many more have been treated since. "Our experience so far is that we're achieving high levels of precision, excellent image quality and very fast throughput," says Eklund.
TrueBeam was designed to treat cancer in a fast and precise manner, including tumors that move during treatment as the patient breathes in and out. Intended to advance the treatment of lung, breast, prostate, head and neck, and other types of cancer, it features technical innovations that dynamically synchronize imaging, patient positioning, motion management and treatment delivery. With its High Intensity Mode, the system can deliver very high doses quickly and accurately, more than twice as fast as earlier generations of technology.
Eklund said brain tumor patients were previously sent to Stockholm and lung and esophagus cancer patients to Uppsala for stereotactic radiotherapy treatments. But with TrueBeam, such patients can now receive stereotactic treatments at Vasteras, which serves a population of about 250,000.
"We are the only hospital offering radiotherapy treatments in this county and it is important for people not to have to travel long distances for treatment," he added. "One of our current machines was due for replacement and we had a choice to make – we could buy something cheaper, which could be obsolete in two or three years, or we could buy a much more advanced system which would see us through many more years. We opted for the latter."
TrueBeam can be used to deliver intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), which is a precise form of radiotherapy that shapes the treatment beam so that it matches the shape of the tumor in three dimensions. The device can also deliver RapidArc radiotherapy, which speeds up IMRT delivery by as much as a factor of eight.
Eklund said even carrying out IMRT has been a problem for the hospital in the past due to time constraints, but both RapidArc and stereotactic radiosurgery treatments would soon commence on the new system. "Our staff is delighted with TrueBeam," he added. "They find it very easy to use, very intuitive, and it takes this hospital's treatment capabilities to the next level."
For more information: www.varian.com