U.Va. Health System adds new cancer treatment center

10/27/04

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., Oct. 26, 2004 -- Virginia residents and those from throughout the mid-Atlantic region will soon have access to one of the worlds' most advanced cancer treatment systems. The University of Virginia Health System has installed a $2.7 million TomoTherapy Hi-Art System. The radiation therapy machine should be ready to treat its first patient in late October. "We are excited to be the first medical center in the Commonwealth to offer this state-of-the-art treatment option to cancer patients and their families and physicians," said R. Edward Howell, Vice President and CEO of the U.Va. Medical Center.

Unlike traditional radiation therapy, which generally delivers treatment to a tumor from a few different directions, the TomoTherapy System precisely pinpoints the tumor and delivers radiation from 360 degrees.

"This reduces high-dose exposure of healthy tissue to radiation and could reduce the side effects for our patients," said Dr. Maria Kelly, chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology at U.Va. "We are extremely excited to have this cutting-edge technology, which further solidifies U.Va.'s reputation as a national leader in cancer care and treatment. This technology allows us to deliver precision radiation therapy and will have tremendous positive impact for our patients."

As radiation is delivered by a beam in a helical pattern, from any point in a 360-degree rotation, the beam moves a predetermined distance along the length of the patient. The benefit is a more localized and accurate treatment of the tumor.

The TomoTherapy System is also one of the first devices to provide 3-D imaging immediately before each treatment to verify the location of a patient's tumor. The ability to do 3-D imaging increases precision. "Often between treatments a patient's tumor can move. So by verifying before each treatment, a patient's tumor can be precisely targeted, increasing accuracy of delivery," Kelly said.

"Our goal is to win the war against cancer," says John Barni, CEO of Wisconsin-based TomoTherapy Inc, manufacturer of the system. "The clinician can plan, verify and deliver treatment using a single system. It may also reduce the chance of errors since all patient information is contained in one unit, and it reduces patient treatment time."

Here's how the system works: Before treatment the patient moves through the machine for a localizing 3-D CT (computerized tomography) image to verify the shape, size and location of the tumor.

Based on this localizing image, the TomoTherapy unit is adjusted before treatment to precisely treat the tumor. The patient then moves through the machine again where radiation is delivered in a helical pattern (360 degrees) to the tumor. Each procedure takes about fifteen to twenty-five minutes.

U.Va. has renovated a new suite for the TomoTherapy system, and patients and clinicians, on the first floor of the Medical Center's West Complex. U.Va. has also been named one of twenty-four Centers of Clinical Excellence established by TomoTherapy to lead innovation and research into new radiation techniques. Along those lines, Dr. Paul Read, Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology, will direct U.Va.'s efforts to extend the use of Tomotherapy to perform Stereotactic Radiotherapy (SRT) to treat metastatic cancer in new ways. He will build on U.Va.'s long tradition of integrating the latest in radiation oncology technology into the treatment of patients with malignant disease.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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