John Stoddard Cancer Center at Iowa Methodist Medical Center is continuing to lead the way for cancer care in the Midwest by becoming one of only a few cancer centers in the nation and one of only a handful in the world to acquire an innovative new piece of technology that provides patients with a radically different approach to treating cancer.
The TrueBeam™ STx system from Varian Medical Systems was engineered to perform sophisticated radiosurgery procedures with pinpoint accuracy. It works by choreographing highly sophisticated systems-imaging, beam delivery and motion management-and makes it possible to deliver treatments quickly while monitoring and compensating for tumor motion. It will enable faster and more accurate tumor targeting in the treatment of challenging cancers throughout the body, including those in the lung, breast, prostate, head and neck, and liver. There are currently only four cancer centers in the world using the TrueBeam STx system. This revolutionary new technology will be operational at Stoddard towards the beginning of 2011. Philanthropic dollars helped to make the purchase of this equipment possible.
"TrueBeam opens the door to many new possibilities for Stoddard cancer patients," said Dr. Robert Goebel, medical director of Radiation Oncology at Stoddard. "When combined with our experienced group of physicians, TrueBeam gives us a wide range of new capabilities and truly is a ground-breaking advancement in cancer care."
Designed to be a versatile platform, a 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. Radiosurgery or stereotactic radiotherapy are terms that include a type of cancer therapy in which very precisely focused beams of radiation target the tumor. John Stoddard has acquired the TrueBeam STx model that is specially configured for advanced radiosurgery.
A TrueBeam STx system can deliver treatments up to four times faster with a dose delivery rate of up to 2400 monitor units per minute, double the maximum output of other radiosurgery systems. This makes it possible to offer greater patient comfort by shortening treatments, and to improve precision by leaving less time for tumor motion during dose delivery. "Intelligent" automation further speeds treatments with an up to five-fold reduction in the number of steps needed for imaging, positioning and treating patients. A standard intensity-modulated treatment that would typically take ten minutes can be completed in less than two minutes. Complex radiosurgery that typically takes 40 to 60 minutes can be completed in just 5 to 20 minutes.
The precision of a TrueBeam system is measured in increments of less than a millimeter. This accuracy is made possible by the system's sophisticated architecture, which establishes a new level of synchronization between imaging, patient positioning, motion management, beam shaping, and dose delivery technologies, performing accuracy checks every ten milliseconds throughout an entire treatment. More than 100,000 data points are monitored continually as a treatment progresses, ensuring that the system maintains a "true isocenter," or focal point of treatment.
"This increased level of precision will make it possible for doctors to treat a moving lung tumor as if it were standing still," said Goebel. "By synchronizing treatment with tumor position changes throughout the respiratory cycle, we will be able to reduce the margin of healthy tissue affected by the treatment beam."
The TrueBeam STx imager can generate 3-D images of the tumor and surrounding anatomy 60 percent faster than was possible with previous Varian technology. In addition, images can be generated using 25 percent less X-ray dose. These images are used to fine-tune a patient's position prior to and during the treatment process.
TrueBeam STx also offers features designed to improve the patient experience. The machine's mechanisms run smoothly, quietly and fast. Three closed-circuit television systems and a two-way audio system allow for comprehensive monitoring of the patient from outside the treatment room and facilitate interactions between patient and therapist. Enhanced technology enables music to be played during the short treatments, helping to create a more soothing treatment environment.
"TrueBeam's revolutionary capabilities will allow us to improve conventional treatments and offer patients more options for fighting their disease," said Goebel. "In 1962 Iowa Methodist Medical Center established Iowa's first hospital-based radiation oncology department and the purchase of TrueBeam STx continues our journey of being the most technologically advanced cancer center in the Midwest."