Tanner Health System has invested almost $6 million in technological upgrades and physical improvements to its Roy Richards, Sr. Cancer Center.
The $5.8 million in improvements include bringing online a new linear accelerator, enabling Tanner Cancer Care to deliver radiation therapy to cancer patients faster and with more precision than ever.
The new accelerator uses Varian Medical Systems’ advanced TrueBeam platform for image-guided radiotherapy and radiosurgery. It is the first fully-integrated radiation delivery system designed from the ground up to treat a moving target quickly and accurately.
Radiation is a standard treatment for cancer, prized for its ability to destroy the DNA in cancer cells, thereby destroying the cancer. Often, the radiation is delivered to the site of the cancer on a machine called a linear accelerator, which delivers a precise beam of radiation to the cancerous tissue.
“The TrueBeam system is a radiotherapy system that uses noninvasive tumor-destroying radiation to treat cancers throughout the body while minimizing exposure to surrounding healthy tissue,” said J. Richard Bland, MD, a board-certified radiation oncologist with Tanner Radiation Oncology and medical operations leader for Tanner Cancer Care. “Our ability to administer to cancerous cells while preserving healthy cells in the vicinity of the cancer is unparalleled on this new platform.
“Compared to older treatment modalities, it’s the difference between administering radiation with a shotgun or a laser,” Dr. Bland explained.
The TrueBeam system can be used for all forms of advanced external-beam radiotherapy including image-guided radiotherapy and radiosurgery (IGRT and IGRS), intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) and RapidArc radiotherapy. The product line includes TrueBeam STx, specially configured for advanced radiosurgery.
“Most treatments only take minutes a day,” said Dr. Bland. “The TrueBeam system’s advanced imaging and treatment modes allow us to tailor treatments specifically to a particular cancer.”
Along with the Varian Trilogy with RapidArc linear accelerator that Tanner brought online in 2009, Tanner Cancer Care now offers some of the most advanced, sophisticated radiation therapy services available.
“The level of care we’re able to provide at Tanner is really second-to-none,” said Dr. Bland. “Our ability to deliver cancer treatments is on par with anyone in the Southeast.”
Further enhancing treatments at Tanner Cancer Care is a new, state-of-the-art computed tomography, or CT, system.
“The advancements we’re making with radiation therapy are in how it’s delivered,” said Anna Harris, MD, a board-certified radiation oncologist with Tanner Radiation Oncology and a member of the patient care team at Tanner Cancer Care. “The goal is to destroy all of the cancerous cells while damaging as few of the healthy cells as possible.”
Effectively delivering treatment means ensuring that the radiation hits the right place, and the technology has gotten very good at that, Dr. Harris explained. But one difficulty has remained: people breathe.
“When you’re treating a cancer in the abdomen — on the kidney or lungs, for instance — the tumor isn’t stationary,” Dr. Harris said. “It moves as the patient breathes. So we have to make sure the radiation path takes that movement into account to ensure we’re getting all of the cancer but as little of the healthy tissue as possible. Knowing how the tissue moves is important to make sure we deposit the dose where the cancer is going to be.”
The Roy Richards, Sr. Cancer Center has brought online a new GE Optima CT580 RT computed tomography system. The new system provides Tanner Cancer Care’s patient care team with clear images of patient anatomy that they can use in planning cancer treatments that more precisely target the cancer — even when the cancerous tissue moves.
The system features 4-D video organ motion tracking capabilities, which can capture organ movement over time so physicians can adapt radiation therapy treatments to account for that movement.
“This can be very important if we’re treating a tumor that’s near the heart, when we want to make sure no heart tissue is in the beam’s path,” said Dr. Harris. “Or if we’re treating cancer in a patient who has a diseased organ, like cirrhosis of the liver, we want to make sure we don’t damage that organ any further.”
Along with clearer imaging, the CT system also features a larger gantry opening into the “tube,” which not only offers the patient more comfort but gives the physician greater flexibility in positioning the patient in such as way that as little healthy tissue as possible is in the way of the radiation beam.
“It gives us the option of maybe moving a patient’s arm or leg, not only so they’re not in the path of the radiation, but so we don’t have to use as strong a dose of radiation to reach the cancer,” said Dr. Harris.
The new CT system works in concert with the radiation delivery systems available at the cancer center to further enhance the accuracy of treatments. Treatment plans developed on the new CT system can then be uploaded directly to the linear accelerator, where the beam can follow the precise path developed on the CT system.
In addition to the technological upgrades, Tanner has also made physical improvements to the cancer center to enhance patients’ privacy and comfort, including new partitions to shield computer monitors from public view.
Loy Howard, president and CEO of Tanner Health System, said the investments are part of Tanner’s Advancing Health efforts.
“Cancer care has long been a major focus for the health system,” said Howard. “It’s something that affects so many people in our region. Exceptional cancer care shouldn’t just be available from big-city cancer programs or exclusive, for-profit providers. At Tanner, we’re making world class cancer care available through our community-based treatment program, from a patient care team that treats each patient as a neighbor.”
More information on Tanner Cancer Care’s services — including surgical solutions, medical oncology and radiation treatment options — is available at www.TannerCancerCare.org.
For Immediate Release
June 26, 2015
Contact: Tony Montcalm