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New linear accelerator advances treatment for cancer patients

July 01, 2016
Linear Accelerator

“One of the many ways the Baystate Regional Cancer Program remains at the forefront of modern cancer care in the Pioneer Valley is by investing in the most advanced therapies for our cancer patients,” says Dr. Brian Acker, chief, Radiology Oncology.

The program’s newest investment, installed at Baystate Medical Center’s D’Amour Center for Cancer Care, is the $2.5 million Versa HD Linear Accelerator. Versa HD gives clinicians the flexibility to deliver conventional therapies to treat a wide range of tumors throughout the body, while also enabling treatment of highly complex cancers that require extreme targeting precision. As an integrated treatment system, Versa HD offers the versatility to address today’s growing cancer management challenges.

Delivering radiation with unprecedented accuracy and speed compared to older generation models, the state-of-the-art device is capable of focused stereotactic radiosurgery and stereotactic body therapy – highly focused forms of radiation therapy to the brain and body.

Versa HD excels in:

  • Reducing treatment times with rapid deployment of beam-shaping devices and maximum dose rates that are more than three times higher than previous generation Elekta linear accelerators
  • Providing the potential to deliver SBRT/SRS in a standard time slot
  • Lowering non-therapeutic doses to protect organs at risk and potentially reducing the risk of secondary cancer
  • Exploiting the full potential of high doses for advanced therapies by eliminating previous beam-shaping limitations
  • Providing custom configurations for unique clinical needs
  • Utilizing the latest imaging technology to allow soft tissue visualization during treatment.

For the patient, Versa HD also offers them a more relaxed experience and expands their comfort level with new ergonomic features, including a more patient-friendly, softer and sleeker exterior, as well as low mechanical noise with ambient lighting effects.

Advanced Treatment for Complex Cancers

Dr. Acker noted that not all patients will be treated on the new Versa HD and that many – whose tumors don’t require the new technology – will continue to be treated on the hospital’s Oncor accelerators, which is perfectly fine for most patients..

“Radiation treatment is all about optimal delivery of therapy to the cancer with minimal toxicity to normal tissue. The greater precision achievable with this newer equipment is terrific and will allow Baystate to remain the leader for cancer treatment in this region. From a medical oncologist’s perspective it is a joy to be able to get patients treated here collaborating with the skilled Baystate radiation oncologists who have state-of-the-art equipment. Sophisticated planning and treatment delivery for brain, colon, lung, breast and a range of other tumors is readily available. It’s great for our patients and certainly makes my job easier,” said Dr. James A. Stewart, chief, Hematology-Oncology at the Baystate Regional Cancer Program.

Expert Treatment, Reduced Environmental Impact

The new linear accelerator is operated by highly-trained, knowledgeable radiation therapists who work in conjunction with in-house radiation physicists and dosimetrists in safely delivering the correct amount of radiation prescribed by the patient’s radiation oncologist at Baystate.

Environmentally friendly, Versa HD consumes up to 30 percent less energy than other delivery systems, resulting in a reduced environmental impact and lower operating costs.

In case you didn’t know: The backbone of radiation therapy for cancer worldwide, the first medical linear accelerator was used at Stanford in 1956 to treat a two-year-old boy with a tumor in his eye.