Albany, N.Y., August 30, 2006— Albany Medical Center has introduced a promising new radiation technology for cancer patients in the Capital Region – an advanced linear accelerator that mounts a more direct and precise attack on tumors by employing powerful imaging systems and computers to make adjustments for patient movement caused by breathing.
The Varian Medical Systems Linear Accelerator now in use at Albany Med features both on-board imaging and respiratory gating. The on-board imaging system provides the Medical Center’s radiation oncology team with the ability to use CT imaging at the time of treatment to show exactly where tumors are located. External sensors on the patient monitor breathing activity enabling clinicians to determine when the tumor is in the optimal position during the patient’s breathing cycle, and when it is not. The LINAC can then be programmed to deliver the treatment beam only when the tumor is in the most favorable position. It will shut itself on and off in response to the phase of respiration chosen by the radiation oncologist.
“The new technology is in keeping with Albany Med’s patient care mission,” said Susan Gibbons, M.D., chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology. “The whole goal of radiation treatment is to aim as carefully as you can and exclude as much normal tissue as possible from the treatment field. This new technology allows us to pinpoint tumors more precisely.”
“Patients with tumors in the chest cavity or abdominal region will benefit significantly from the use of respiratory gating, because of the number of organs in those areas which can shift around during breathing,” Dr. Gibbons added.
The use of image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) improves treatment of all types of cancers throughout the body. The on-board imaging device mounts onto the linear accelerator via “arms” that are controlled robotically and operates along three axes of motion around a patient’s body during radiation therapy. A CT scanner captures images of the patient in treatment position, prior to treatment each day. This allows clinicians to know whether a tumor has moved since the last treatment and make millimeter adjustments, if necessary, prior to delivering the next dose of radiation.
Albany Medical Center consists of one of the state's largest teaching hospitals, the Albany Medical Center Hospital, and one of the nation's oldest medical schools, Albany Medical College.
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