Royal Marsden Hospital completes world's first VMAT radiotherapy treatment

18 February 2008

The Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton, UK, successfully completed the first volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT)* radiation treatment for cancer in the world using a commercial product. The hospital used its existing Elekta Synergy system and Elekta's next generation linear accelerator control system.

VMAT simultaneously controls the position and speed of the linear accelerator gantry, the multileaf collimator and radiation dose rate. The flexibility and variability of VMAT provides highly conformal radiation dose distribution to each target tissue site, sparing surrounding healthy tissue more effectively than other treatment methods to reduce the possibility of negative side effects.

VMAT treatments also take significantly less time than other radiation therapy techniques, making the treatment more comfortable for the patient and further increasing the likelihood of precise dose delivery.

Jim Warrington, head of Radiotherapy Physics at The Royal Marsden Hospital, reports on the first VMAT patient, who was treated for lung cancer: "The patient received a single 340° arc of six megavoltage x-rays, with simultaneously variable dose-rate and dynamic multileaf collimator modulation. The treatment arc delivered a 2 Gray fraction to the target in 93 seconds, approximately half the time it would have taken normally."

"Given the potential for non-coplanar deliveries," says Warrington, "VMAT will be a significantly improved treatment modality for The Royal Marsden Hospital's radiotherapy patients." The Royal Marsden Hospital treats about 4,000 new radiotherapy patients each year at its Sutton site, and 2,500 at its Chelsea site.

"The efficiency and flexibility of this technique is impressive," adds Warrington, "and we hope to be able to expand the use of this cutting-edge technology to become a routine treatment method in the future."


*Elekta Volumetric Intensity Modulated Arc Therapy (VMAT) is pending regulatory approvals in certain markets, including 510(k) clearance in the US, and is not yet available for commercial sale in the US.

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