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The Lancet Oncology

Friday, December 5, 2008

New Radiotherapy Technology may Improve Outcomes

A 60-year-old prostate cancer patient in Montpeller, has become the first person in France to be treated with a new, fast and precise, form of intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT). Each of his treatments at the Centre Régional de Lutte Contre le Cancer (CRLC),Val D'Aurelle in Montpeller, France, took just 75 seconds, several times faster than conventional IMRT treatments.

Dr. Pascal Fenoglietto, the hospital's chief medical physicist for scientific projects, presented the case to his peers at the annual meeting of the Société Française de Radiothérapie Oncologique (French Society of Radiation Oncologists, SFRO, November 12- 14), in the Palais des Congrés de Paris, in Paris, France.

"Compared to conventional IMRT technology [this treatment] was three times quicker," explained Dr. Fenoglietto. "We are now able to use the time we save on treatment delivery to take more images and increase the quality of our care."

The new IMRT technology called RapidArc was developed by Varian Medical Systems, Inc. (Palo Alto, California), a leading manufacturer of medical devices and software for treating cancer with radiotherapy, radiosurgery, proton therapy, and brachytherapy.

With the new, faster, image-guided IMRT, physicians can target radiation beams at a tumor while making just one continuous rotation around the patient. Conventional IMRT treatments are slower and more difficult for radiotherapy radiographers because they target tumors using a complex sequence of fixed beams from multiple angles. The result is that physicians can now better adjust the dose more closely to the size, shape, and location of the tumor which helps them to kill cancer cells more effectively but to spare more healthy tissue with reduced complications and better outcomes. "We now have the opportunity to improve outcomes while offering more patients greater access to advanced care," Dr. Fenoglietto said.

So far, more than 700 patients have been treated with IMRT at the comprehensive cancer center in Montpeller, since its introduction in 2001. According to radiation oncologist Dr. Carmen Llacer Moscardo, "Pelvic cases can take between 12 and 14 minutes to treat with IMRT but we can now do them in less than two minutes with one arc or, if clinically relevant, about three minutes with two arcs around the patient with this new technology. If we do this, there is less possibility for the patient to move and we reduce the chance of internal motion playing a part, as there tends to be a lot of motion in the pelvic region. Also, fast treatments reduce the possibility of inaccuracy and increase patient comfort."

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