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Targeting Tumors: June 25, 2013

“Radiation is delivered 360 degrees around the patient and the table moves in and out as the patient gets treatment,” says Dr. Alan Brown, radiation oncologist on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.

This is ‘Truebeam’. Its state-of-the art technology combines real-time imaging and positioning to zero in on tumors, a more accurate way to deliver high doses of radiation.

“Radiation can kill any tumor. The problem is that in order for radiation to get where it needs to go, it has to go through normal tissue. You want a treatment that’s able to give high doses of radiation but minimize toxicity to other tissues surrounding tissues,” says Dr. Brown.

Patient benefits are two-fold: less chance for collateral damage and less time on the table. Instead of undergoing radiation for 20 minutes, patients may be here for five. And treatment plans that once required months can be shortened to days.

How many treatments can you cut it down to?

“So for patients who have small tumors in good locations we can occasionally give treatment in a single course,” says Dr. Brown.

Advancements in technology means a radiation beam can be delivered within 1millimeter of precision. That presents greater opportunity for hard-to-treat cancers including: brain, lung, pancreatic, head and neck, along with breast and prostate; creating the potential for better patient outcomes.

“Ten to fifteen years from now, we want to make sure they’re alive without side effects from treatment. Because that affects quality of life,” says Dr. Brown.

One of the fastest growing cancer fields, advanced radiotherapy maximizes treatment and minimizes harm.