Staffordshire hospital modernises radiotherapy department with Varian RapidArc linear accelerator

26 November 2008

Cancer patients will receive faster, more advanced cancer treatments as part of a major project to modernize the University Hospital radiotherapy department serving North Staffordshire in central England, while relocating it from the Royal Infirmary to City General Hospital.

The government-backed project entitled ‘Fit for the Future’ calls for the installation of four new linear accelerators from Varian Medical Systems, three of which have the capability of delivering state-of-the-art RapidArc radiotherapy treatments.

When treatments start in 2009, the Centre will have the ability to deliver fast and precise treatments with Varian RapidArc technology in combination with online 3D image guidance. RapidArc, introduced by Varian earlier this year, enables highly precise treatments to be delivered in less than two minutes.

Dr Andy Moloney, head of radiotherapy physics and director of oncology, said, “We are delighted that this long-awaited project is finally going ahead and we selected Varian as a partner because they are technologically ahead of the game.

“We do a lot of intensity-modulated radiotherapy treatments already and lack of speed can sometimes be a limiting factor for delivering such conformal treatments, so we believe our patients will benefit from the additional speed and efficiency of RapidArc,” adds Dr. Moloney.

Under an order placed in August, Varian will supply its Clinac iX accelerators equipped with on-board imager devices and RapidArc capability as well as a GammaMed high dose rate brachytherapy afterloader, Acuity iX cone beam simulator and a suite of Eclipse treatment planning and ARIA oncology information software for combined management of chemotherapy and radiotherapy patients. The new machines are due to be installed at the beginning of March 2009.

RapidArc is a faster way of delivering advanced image-guided intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) that concentrates radiation dose on tumours while sparing more of the surrounding healthy tissue. It is up to eight times faster than conventional IMRT. Treatment planning analyses show that RapidArc matches or exceeds the precision of conventional IMRT systems for diseases including prostate and head and neck cancer. Other radiotherapy studies correlate the ability to spare more healthy tissue with reduced complications and better outcomes.

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