News | September 15, 2008

U.S. Doctors Target Head, Neck Tumors with RapidArc

September 16, 2008 - Doctors at cancer treatment centers in the U.S. and the Netherlands are now treating head and neck cancer using RapidArc radiotherapy technology from Varian Medical Systems.

RapidArc was used to deliver image-guided intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) significantly faster than was previously possible with conventional IMRT. The RapidArc treatment plans for these cases also did a better job of protecting surrounding normal tissues and organs.

"Traditional IMRT has been a gold standard for several years in radiotherapy when it came to avoiding healthy tissue and targeting the tumor mass," said Ben Slotman, M.D., PhD, professor and chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, Netherlands. "We have been so satisfied with the faster treatment planning and the faster delivery with RapidArc that we plan to treat all of our head and neck IMRT candidates using this technology."

Dr. Slotman and his colleagues recently treated a 46-year old male with throat cancer. "The RapidArc plan showed better and more even tumor coverage, compared with a standard 7-field IMRT plan," said Slotman. "With RapidArc, we were also able to spare more of the organs at risk than with IMRT," he added. When treating a tumor in the head or neck it is important to avoid the highly sensitive organs nearby, such as the spinal cord, eyes, brainstem, and other vital areas of the central nervous system.

At the Center for Radiation Therapy of Beverly Hills, Henry Yampolsky, M.D., recently used RapidArc to deliver an unusual unilateral neck tumor treatment that avoided the opposite half of the 68-year-old patient's oral cavity, salivary glands, and neck.

The treatment involved immobilizing the patient for each of his daily treatments using an awkward mouth piece that immobilized the tongue. "A conventional treatment would have taken 15 minutes a day at least -- a long time to be immobilized in that way. With RapidArc, we had him in and out of there in less than five," Dr. Yampolsky said.

"Compared with conventional forms of IMRT, RapidArc also helped us achieve better sparing of the healthy side of the patient's neck," said Dr. Yampolsky. "This was important to preserve his salivary function and as much of his oral cavity as possible."

RapidArc radiotherapy technology has now been used for the treatment of prostate, head and neck, lung, brain, spine, bone, gynecological, and soft tissue cancers.

For more information: www.varian.com

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