PALO ALTO, Calif., Nov. 6 During his annualphysical check-up in March, David Kelver's doctor noticed he'd never had histonsils out, and remarked that the right one looked a bit swollen. The doctorconcluded, however, that the problem was minor and would clear up on its own,and sent him home. Several months later, Kelver, a 58-year-old engineer,noticed a lump in his neck. It turned out to be cancer that had started in histonsil and spread to his lymph nodes.
That was the bad news. Some good news followed, however. Kelver found hisway to Dhiren Shah, M.D., radiation oncologist at Cancer Care of Western NewYork, the first and only treatment center in the area to offer patientstreatment using RapidArc(TM) radiotherapy technology from Varian MedicalSystems (NYSE: VAR). RapidArc, a new weapon in the fight against cancer, is ahighly-precise form of radiotherapy that targets tumors quickly and accuratelywhile minimizing exposure of surrounding healthy tissue.
"David had to choose between radical surgery or chemotherapy withradiation," said Dr. Shah. "He chose the chemo/radiation combination becauseit offers the same potential cure rate as surgery while being less invasiveand disfiguring."
RapidArc technology makes it possible for Dr. Shah to deliver a preciseimage-guided IMRT treatment in two minutes or less, which is two to eighttimes faster than was previously possible with conventional IMRT. "Thetreatment itself is only about 40-60 seconds; the set-up prior to treatmenttakes longer," Kelver said. "I never had conventional radiation but I can tellyou, I would not like to have to lay there immobilized on a table for 30minutes each day instead of ten."
Dr. Shah's clinical team compared a RapidArc treatment plan with one forconventional IMRT and found that the RapidArc plan spared more of Kelver'ssalivary glands and the rest of his oral cavity. "Prior forms of radiationtherapy might have severely compromised his salivary function, which can leadto a permanent and severe dry mouth condition that would have affected hiseating, digestion, taste, and dental health," Dr. Shah said. "With theRapidArc treatment, we'll have a good chance of avoiding or minimizing thesekinds of debilitating side effects."
"I've finished seven treatment sessions out of 33. I have a ways to go,but so far, I'm eating and drinking fine; there's been no impact in thatrespect," Kelver said. "Today, I pulled the patio furniture in and worked inthe yard, because we're expecting snow tonight. I plan to continue workingwhile I'm in treatment, because it's a great distraction.
According to Dr. Shah, RapidArc technology is now being used to treatprostate, lung, and brain cancer. "A father and son, 76 and 43 years of age,are among the patients currently undergoing RapidArc treatment for prostatecancer," he said. "We looked at RapidArc plans as compared with conventionalIMRT for these types of cases, and concluded that the RapidArc approach does abetter job of protecting the rectum and the bladder. And with treatments beingcompleted so quickly, these two can get in and out of the office faster andspend more quality time together."
Another patient, Raymond Kelly, is a 72-year-old man with stage 3 lungcancer that has spread to his lymph nodes on both sides. "With earlier formsof radiation therapy, once a tumor spreads to this degree, you have to limitthe dose because of all the healthy lung tissue you would otherwise damageduring treatment," Dr. Shah explained. "The RapidArc treatment plan does agreat job of sparing his healthy lung tissue, so we can deliver the kind ofhigher dose that has a chance of eradicating the tumor, and we can do it indaily treatments that take less than two minutes to deliver. Conventional IMRTtreatments would have taken 10-15 minutes per day."
Dr. Shah points out that faster treatments have the potential to improveaccuracy further, because there is less chance of the patient moving during ashorter treatment. "With RapidArc, we are comfortable that our patients arereceiving treatments that are at least equivalent and in some cases superiorto conventional IMRT treatments, in terms of normal tissue sparing, eventhough the process is fast for our patients."
Clinical studies on radiotherapy have correlated the ability to spare morehealthy tissue with reduced complications and better outcomes. Other studiessuggest that faster treatments may lead to a higher cancer cell kill rate.The American Cancer Society estimates that, in 2008 there will be 1.4 millionnew cases of cancer in the United States, with over 97,000 of those occurringin New York State.
About Cancer Care of Western New York
Cancer Care of Western New York offers cancer patients the environment andexpertise they need for an optimal chance of cure with minimal disruption totheir lives. The highly specialized resources available at Cancer Care ofWestern New York can be found at only a small percentage of leading cancercenters across the country, and include board certified radiation oncologists,new facilities & technology, and compassionate support teams. We are proud tobe the first treatment center in Western New York to offer RapidArc(TM)radiotherapy from Varian Medical Systems. Unlike a large institution, CancerCare's singular focus allows the physicians and staff the time to get to knoweach patient, and to serve their individualized needs around the clock. Thestaff is specially trained to help patients with all types of cancer includingbreast, prostate, head & neck, brain, and lung. We are committed to helpingpatients understand the complexities of their condition, and to making thetreatment experience as comfortable and effective as possible. Cancer Care ofWestern New York is a division of WNY Urology Associates, LLC, amulti-specialty group practice that specializes in radiation oncology andurology.
About Varian Medical Systems
Varian Medical Systems, Inc., of Palo Alto, California, is the world'sleading manufacturer of medical devices and software for treating cancer andother medical conditions with radiotherapy, radiosurgery, proton therapy, andbrachytherapy. The company supplies informatics software for managingcomprehensive cancer clinics, radiotherapy centers and medical oncologypractices. Varian is a premier supplier of tubes and digital detectors forX-ray imaging in medical, scientific, and industrial applications and alsosupplies X-ray imaging products for cargo screening and industrial inspection.Varian Medical Systems employs approximately 4,800 people who are located atmanufacturing sites in North America and Europe and in its 60 sales andsupport offices around the world. For more information, visithttp://www.varian.com.FOR INFORMATION CONTACT: Meryl Ginsberg, Varian Medical Systems 650-424-6444 or [email protected]
Jennifer Zivis, Cancer Care of Western NY 716-844-5519 or [email protected]
SOURCE Varian Medical Systems, Inc.