Penn Medicine has become the first in the world to treat a head and neck cancer patient with a new treatment platform called 'The Varian Halcyon system' which can shorten the amount of time patients spend in treatment by more than half. The new technology is designed to offer a more user-friendly approach for experts, making it easier to train new therapists.
James Metz, MD, chair of Radiation Oncology at Penn Medicine expressed, "This is a next-generation technology, and Penn is proud not only to have helped with its development, but also to build on our long history as radiation oncology innovators and be the first in the world to bring the new option to patients, as part of our continued pursuit to offer patients with cancers of all kinds the most advanced array of treatment options."
Starting in 2015, Penn collaborated with Varian, the platform's manufacturer, on the development and validation of the new technology. The platform was designed with the goal of making it easier for technicians to use, involving just nine steps instead of the 30 or more that are currently involved on standard radiation therapy platforms. Testing conducted at Penn has shown that the radiation itself was delivered comparably to traditional platforms -- or in some cases more accurately -- while working at roughly twice the speed.
In addition to head and neck cancer, Penn physicians plan to use Halcyon to treat breast and cervical cancer, as well as to shrink tumors for symptom relief among patients with metastatic cancers.
"Penn's department of Radiation Oncology is a national and global leader in both proton and conventional radiation therapy including the development of global training and education courses," Metz said. "Partnering with outside innovators to test and bring new technologies to the clinic is a great example of our leadership and collaboration in the field, and our commitment to offering more options to the patients we care for."