About half of people diagnosed with cancer receive radiation therapy, either alone or in combination with other types of treatment. It’s an extremely effective way to treat cancer because it precisely targets and destroys tumors.
The David & Donna Long Cancer Center at Sharp Grossmont Hospital recently acquired one of the most advanced radiation therapy systems available to treat many types of cancer. The Accuray Radixact® System features new motion tracking and correction technology called Synchrony, which targets tumors with exact precision — even if the tumor moves — to help protect surrounding healthy tissue and organs.
“Sharp Grossmont has made an investment in state-of-the-art technology to fight cancer in East County,” says Dr. Kelly DeWitt, a board-certified radiation oncologist and medical director of the Sharp Grossmont Department of Radiation Oncology. “This innovative technology ensures anyone faced with a cancer diagnosis can receive the best possible care, close to home.”
Precision when it counts
Noninvasive radiation therapy has been used for more than 100 years to treat cancer, but it has evolved. Today’s advanced technology delivers high doses of radiation, pinpointing even the smallest tumors while protecting the surrounding area. For the best outcomes, delivery must be precise, as the slightest movement during treatment can shift a tumor by one millimeter or more, which can affect the outcome.
The Radixact Synchrony technology uses image guidance to automatically adapt the movement of a radiation beam — in synchronization with a tumor — even if the tumor moves during treatment due to normal bodily processes, such as breathing or digestion, as well as patient movement. This means safer, real-time treatment for patients throughout an entire session without interrupting treatment delivery or adjusting a patient’s position.
“One of the benefits of this technology is we can optimize treatments more accurately and quickly,” says Gerry Rodriguez, a radiologic technologist and the manager of Sharp Grossmont’s Radiation Oncology Department. “That minimizes the impact on patient lives, so they can get back to their families and doing things they enjoy.”
The Radixact replaces an older tomotherapy system previously used at Sharp. Advantages of the new system include:
- Technology seamlessly built into the way a patient’s treatment is delivered, allowing the care team to clearly see the shape and location of a tumor in real time before each treatment session.
- Use of image-guided intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), an advanced radiation therapy technique that involves customizing the shape, size and intensity of the radiation beam to match the tumor. Matching the beam to the tumor significantly improves how much healthy surrounding tissue can be protected from radiation.
- 3D volumetric CT imaging used to determine the position of a patient’s tumor and, if needed, adjustments can be made before each treatment. Synchrony technology automatically adjusts for tumor movement during treatment for even greater accuracy and protection.
- Helical — or corkscrew-like — design is delivered from 360 degrees around the patient, allowing for greater control of the radiation dose, so it conforms precisely to the tumor, minimizing radiation exposure to healthy tissue.
- Quick treatment time. The treatment takes about 10 to 20 minutes from the time a patient enters the treatment room until they leave, making it more convenient to fit sessions into a busy schedule.
The addition of the Radixact complements a comprehensive center renovation, completed in 2021. Patients can expect a new, modern environment with natural elements designed to optimize healing; other advanced treatment options, such as the Elekta Versa HD radiation technology; and compassionate caregivers who are with patients every step of the way.