First UK prostate patient treated with RapidArc radiotherapy
17 December 2008
A 65-year-old grandfather of six has become the first cancer patient
in the UK to be treated using RapidArc radiotherapy technology from
Varian Medical Systems (NYSE: VAR).
Graham McCormack from Warrington in Cheshire, received the treatment
at Clatterbridge centre for Oncology in the Wirral, the first UK cancer
centre to introduce the revolutionary new treatment technique.
Clatterbridge Centre for Oncology provides specialist radiotherapy,
chemotherapy and rehabilitation services. One of the UK’s leading cancer
centres, it serves over two million people in the Wirral, north Cheshire
and Liverpool area.
Mr McCormack, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in June, has had
his treatment slot reduced by 25% due to the introduction of RapidArc,
with even greater savings in ‘beam-on’ time.
“It is very exciting to be the first patient in the country to
benefit from this new treatment,” says Mr McCormack. “I’m still employed
as a sales executive within the air cargo business, which keeps me very
active, so the prospect of having the treatment in less time was very
appealing. The treatment itself is over in minutes.”
“RapidArc is a major advance in radiotherapy technology that will change
the way radiotherapy is planned and delivered for selected patients,”
says Angela Heaton, research radiographer at Clatterbridge Centre for
Oncology. “The benefit to patients is significant — not only will they
need to lie on the treatment table for considerably less time but we may
also be able to treat more patients as treatment times are reduced.”
With RapidArc, Varian’s Clinac medical linear accelerator can target
radiation beams at a tumour while making one continuous rotation around
the patient. Conventional intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT)
treatments are slower and more difficult for radiotherapy radiographers
because they target tumours using a complex sequence of fixed beams from
According to Angela Heaton, the ‘beam-on’ time for Mr McCormack was
reduced from nearly four minutes with conventional IMRT to just 1 minute
10 seconds with RapidArc. The total time he spent in the treatment room
was reduced from over ten minutes to eight and a half minutes. In
addition, the RapidArc prostate plan resulted in a better dose
distribution and avoidance of organs at risk, she said.
“Shortly we intend to start using RapidArc for complex head & neck
cancer treatments and we expect the beam-on time will be reduced from 25
minutes using IMRT to about two and a half minutes using two arcs with
RapidArc, resulting in more efficient treatments and potentially
shortening waiting lists,” she said.
RapidArc technology allows more control to conform the dose more
closely to the size, shape, and location of the tumour. Faster treatment
also contributes to precision by reducing the time for motion within the
anatomy, and laboratory studies suggest that faster dose delivery may
kill some cancer cells more effectively.
“Patient care is at the heart of everything we do so the decision to
invest in this equipment was very straightforward,” says Brian Haylock,
clinical director at Clatterbridge Centre for Oncology.
“By using this state-of-the-art technology we can speed up the time
of some of our most complex treatments and in doing so we will be able
to treat more patients comfortably with less stress to the individual.
The treatment technique also has the added advantage of reducing the
probability of the patient moving during treatment, as repositioning can
make the treatment even longer.”
RapidArc delivers a volumetric intensity-modulated radiation therapy
treatment in a single or multiple arcs 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.
Radiotherapy studies correlate the ability to spare more healthy tissue
with reduced complications and better outcomes.
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