Denmark, Netherlands Hospitals To Treat Patients With RapidArc Radiotherapy

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Doctors in Denmark and the Netherlands have successfully carried out Europe's first clinical treatments using advanced RapidArc technology from Varian Medical Systems. Cancer patients at Copenhagen's Rigshospitalet and Amsterdam's VU University medical center became the first people in Europe to benefit from this advanced form of intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT).

Dr. Svend Aage Engelholm, chief radiation oncologist of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Copenhagen University Hospital (Rigshospitalet), says, "Our first image guided RapidArc treatment went perfectly and the only unusual aspect was that the patient joined the clinical team in a celebratory glass of champagne after treatment. He was certainly aware that this was the first clinical treatment of its kind in Europe." Dr. Engelholm said the actual treatment took just 75 seconds to deliver.

The 60-year-old patient, who is half-way through his scheduled treatment cycle, had been receiving five-field image-guided intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) and doctors decided to convert his treatment plan to RapidArc, which was commissioned on one of the hospital's Clinac iX linear accelerators earlier in the week. "We knew that we would really be able to reduce the rectal dose to this patient by using RapidArc and, as it turned out, we reduced it by 15 percent," adds Dr. Engelholm. He added that, as of this week, RapidArc would be the hospital's standard treatment for all prostate cancer patients and other suitable indications would follow.

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Clinicians in Amsterdam also carried out their first RapidArc treatment on a 59-year-old head/neck cancer patient. Dr. Ben Slotman, Professor and Chairman, Department of Radiation Oncology, VU University medical center, said, "As our patient was undergoing re-irradiation, it was important to minimize doses to the brainstem and critical structures. We were able to achieve an optimal plan quickly with RapidArc. We perform many IMRT treatments and will replace all such treatments with RapidArc over time, especially as treatment planning and dose verification only took 24 minutes, which is considerably faster than with standard IMRT."

The treatment in Amsterdam took place on a Trilogy linear accelerator with advanced imaging using the machine's On-Board Imager accessory.

Jiri Bocanek, Varian's senior product manager for delivery systems, said, "We greatly appreciate the dedicated work of these two cancer centers to make these fast and accurate treatments a reality. After more than a year of evaluation, testing and quality assurance work, we are very happy to see a smooth clinical introduction of RapidArc." He also paid tribute to the other European members of the RapidArc Council -- CRLC Val d'Aurelle in Montpellier, France and University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland -- who are also soon to start clinical treatments with RapidArc.

RapidArc delivers a complete volumetric intensity-modulated radiation therapy treatment in a single arc of the treatment machine around the patient and makes it possible to deliver advanced image-guided IMRT two to eight times faster than is possible with conventional IMRT, including helical tomotherapy. Treatment planning analyses show that RapidArc matches or exceeds the precision of conventional IMRT systems and spares more of the healthy tissue surrounding the tumor. Unrelated clinical studies on radiotherapy correlate the ability to spare more healthy tissue with reduced complications and better outcomes.

"RapidArc extends the versatility of Varian's image-guided radiotherapy system, adding volumetric arc therapy to other advanced capabilities including fixed-beam IMRT and stereotactic treatments," said Dow Wilson, president of Varian's Oncology Systems business. "By outfitting their treatment machine with this new capability, clinicians around the world have ensured that they will be able to offer cancer patients the most appropriate form of treatment according to each patient's specific needs."

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