Technology | December 08, 2011

Varian Adds High-Dose Delivery and Prone Breast Treatment Capabilities

December 8, 2011 – Clinac and Trilogy medical linear accelerators from Varian Medical Systems, machines that are used to treat cancer with targeted radiotherapy, have been updated to deliver higher doses up to two times faster than was previously possible.  They can now also better facilitate treating breast cancer patients on their stomachs (in the prone position) rather than their backs—an approach that can reduce the volume of lung and heart tissue exposed to radiation during treatment.

Treatments Up to 50 Percent Faster

Updated control software, which received 510(k) clearance in November from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), adds a High Intensity Mode to the Clinac and Trilogy machines, enabling dose delivery rates of up to 2400 monitor units per minute—double their former highest output. 

"Our High Intensity Mode makes it possible to deliver some treatments up to 50 percent faster than is possible without it," said Chris Toth, senior director of marketing for Varian's Oncology Systems business.  "We're seeing trends toward the use of hypo-fractionation and radiosurgical approaches for many types of cancer, which means that higher doses are delivered in just one or a few treatment sessions for quick ablation of a tumor.  There has been encouraging research supporting this approach for the treatment of cancers of the brain[1], spine[2], and lung[3], as well as for prostate cancer.[4]  With High Intensity Mode, our Clinac and Trilogy machines can deliver these high dose treatments within a clinically-feasible timeframe."

Supporting Breast Cancer Radiotherapy in the Prone Position

Varian also received FDA clearance for the Pivotal Care Solution for prone breast treatment, an innovation that allows patients to be treated on their stomachs rather than their backs.  Recent studies have shown that, for many women without axillary lymph node disease, treatment in the prone position can be used to significantly reduce the volume of lung and heart tissue exposed to the treatment beam.[5],[6]   

"When a woman is in the prone position for treatment, the targeted breast falls away from the rest of her body, creating a greater separation between the breast and the critical organs that lie behind her chest wall," Toth says.  "The Pivotal Solution makes it possible to treat an anatomical area that lies below the couch top, such as a breast that is hanging away from the rest of the body, enabling physicians to choose this approach if it is best for a particular patient.  Varian is committed to providing clinicians with tools that make it faster and easier to offer cancer patients advanced treatments that have the best likelihood of a positive outcome. 

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