Advanced Technology

In April 2017, Mercy Cancer Center welcomed its newest tool for fighting cancer - The TrueBeam Radiotherapy System.

The TrueBeam is a linear accelerator, a machine that treats cancer by using high-energy radiation beams created to kill tumor cells. The state-of-the-art TrueBeam system offers advanced imaging capabilities such as Cone Beam CT and Real-Time Position Management (RPM) for highly accurate patient positioning and monitoring. Combined, these technologies allow for real-time motion detection by tracking a patient’s breathing patterns during treatment, giving physicians the ability to target smaller treatment areas. These treatment options are specifically useful for left-side breast and lung treatments, reducing the radiation dose to the underlying heart or other critical structures. 

“The new Varian TrueBeam linear accelerator complements the four other radiation treatment machines at Mercy Cancer Center,” said Dr. Richard Deming, Mercy Cancer Center Medical Director. “The TrueBeam integrates imaging and radiation delivery. It synchronizes radiation dosage, real-time tumor tracking and imaging with millimeter precision. Accuracy and precision are key components of excellence in radiation therapy.”

The TrueBeam system is just one of several recent advancements Mercy Cancer Center has made at its central campus and West Lakes locations. At the central campus location, Optical Surface Monitoring System (OSMS) – a system of cameras that precisely monitors patients with infrared tracking and localization – is being added. Updated RPM technology has also been added to the two linear accelerators and the CT scanner at the West Lakes center. Three of Mercy Cancer Center’s linear accelerators will now have Volumetric Arc Therapy (VMAT), a time-saving system which allows for the linear accelerator to deliver radiation in a continuous 360-degree arc around the patient. This allows patients to be treated in roughly half the amount of time as conventional treatment techniques.

“Reverence, Integrity, Compassion and Excellence are the core values of Mercy. Those values are always evident at Mercy Cancer Center,” said Dr. Deming. “Cancer treatment is evolving at a more rapid pace than most fields of medicine. Excellence requires that we continue to evolve and improve. As caregivers, we must be lifelong learners. As a cancer center, we must continue to invest in advanced technology.”

What is Real-time Position Management™ (RPM) system?

The RPM system is a non-invasive video-based system for managing tumor motion during radiation therapy treatments for cancer.  The computer-aided technique synchronizes the radiation therapy with a patient’s breathing patterns.  This enables doctors to safely treat lung and other cancers of the chest and abdomen with radiation therapy.

What happens during respiratory gating?

Just prior to treatment, the radiation therapist places a small plastic cube with reflective markers on the patient’s chest. A video camera tracks the up-and-down movement of the cube as the patient breathes. A computer program keeps track of the patient’s normal breathing pattern.  Treatment is then synchronized with the patient’s breathing pattern, so that radiation is delivered to the tumor area only during a pre-determined portion of the respiratory cycle, when the tumor is directly in the path of the treatment beam.  If the patient coughs or the normal breathing pattern is interrupted for some reason, the treatment beam is automatically switched off, until a normal breathing pattern is reestablished.

CyberKnife Radiosurgery Center

Some cancer patients may be candidates for treatment with CyberKnife, also located at the Mercy Cancer Center. 

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