Targeting Cancer With True Precision

Advanced radiation technology targets tumors with exceptional accuracy and speed

For patients with cancer, five or ten less minutes in a treatment room can be a blessing on the long road to survivorship. TrueBeam, a new radiotherapy system developed by Varian, was designed with this kind of improved patient experience in mind, but that is only one reason why this advanced tool was installed at the Nancy N. and J.C. Lewis Cancer & Research Pavilion.

“TrueBeam is simply more precise than the prior machines that were available,” says radiation oncologist John A. Pablo, MD. ”Its imaging system provides a significantly higher quality image of the tumor and the surrounding internal organs.”

As its name suggests, the TrueBeam delivers a radiation beam that targets the cancer and keeps exposure to healthy cells to a minimum. No incisions are made; the noninvasive TrueBeam rotates around the patient to deliver the radiation dose from different angles. It is not appropriate for all types of cancer.

Most patients who are determined to be good candidates for this technology can expect treatments to last 10 minutes or less. Though previous machines were often able to deliver treatment in 10 to 15 minute treatments, the time saved not only enhances the patient experience but also lowers the potential for patient motion during treatment.

The TrueBeam technology is also being installed in the Lewis Cancer & Research Pavilion’s Radiation Oncology Center - Hilton Head/Bluffton, a particularly exciting development for radiation oncologist Lorraine A. Champion, MD. Along with the quicker treatment times, Champion is looking forward to the ability to perform a type of CT-scan, known as the cone beam, before treatment begins.

“With TrueBeam, I can do image-guided radiation therapy every day,” Champion says. “The CT-scan ensures that the fields are totally accurate, and for patients with complex treatment plans like prostate cancer and head and neck cancer, the TrueBeam is also much quicker.”

Dr. Pablo has already experienced these advantages at the Lewis Cancer & Research Pavilion.

“The higher quality imaging helps me to ensure that the path of the beam accurately targets the tumor,” Pablo says. “The TrueBeam is the most advanced radiation machine for daily treatments.”

The Lewis Cancer & Research Pavilion built the CyberKnife suite in 2011. A revolutionary radiotherapy tool, the CyberKnife can deliver radiation beams from over 1200 different angles. So why was it necessary to add the TrueBeam technology?

“The TrueBeam works on a parallel level to the CyberKnife,” Pablo explains. “While the machines share some capabilities, there are also some differences between the two.”

With both tools available to physicians at the Lewis Cancer & Research Pavilion (where a second TrueBeam will soon be installed as well), every patient can expect to be treated with the most advanced technology available for targeting tumors with radiation therapy.

“Technology that not only enhances accuracy but also addresses patient comfort is doubly exciting for both patients and physicians,” Champion says. “We’re thrilled to soon offer TrueBeam treatments to the patients who can benefit from it the most.”
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