Virginia Cancer Center Introduces Safer Form of Radiation Therapy


Massey Cancer Center at Virginia Commonwealth University has announced that it will begin using a safer, more effective form of radiation therapy to treat cancer. The new technology is called volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT), which targets tumors in multiple sites in less time, using less radiation, and thus increasing patient comfort.

VMAT Delivers Radiation To Tumor Site Faster Than Conventional Therapy

VCU Massey is the first in the Richmond, VA area to use the cutting edge equipment made by Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands.

VMAT is a new form of intensity modulated radiation therapy in which the tumor is continuously irradiated while the radiation source rotates 360 degrees around the patient in single or multiple arcs. The benefit to the technology is that the radiation more accurately targets the tumor site and better protects healthy tissue surrounding the tumor.
Tumors targeted include those in the prostate, head and neck, brain, breast and lung.


Read: RapidArc First Used for Soft Tissue Carcinoma Treatment

Treatment with VMAT is shorter – 2 to 3 minutes per session versus 10 to 20 minutes with conventional IMRT. Shorter treatment time not only increases patient comfort, but also patient safety. There are reduced errors in dose delivery since patients are less likely to move around during the session.

Because VMAT is more accurately targeted to the tumor site, a decreased amount of radiation is needed to deliver the prescribed dose to the tumor. This also reduces the amount of secondary radiation a patient experiences compared to conventional IMRT, “thereby decreasing the risk of radiation-induced secondary cancers,” says Dr. Mitchell Anscher, professor of Radiation Oncology at VCU Massey.

The Pinnacle SmartArc by Royal Philips Electronics was part of a comprehensive presentation on integrated imaging and treatment planning at this year’s Annual Meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO). The company states that SmartArc VMAT was preferred over the conventional IMRT plan in 96% of 50 patients surveyed.

Elekta, a human care company headquartered in Sweden, also offers a similar technology using a software program called Monaco.