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New Therapy Speeds Up Cancer Treatments, Reduces Side Effects

06/12/2019

Queen of the Valley Medical Center is proud to announce that it has purchased an upgraded Elekta Infinity® linear accelerator—a device used to provide radiation treatment to cancer patients—that has the ability to perform stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT).

“One of our top priorities is to optimize oncology care for residents in the Napa Valley,” said Larry Coomes, chief executive at Queen of the Valley Medical Center. “This new technology will ease the way for our patients by treating cancer faster, with unparalleled precision.”

SBRT produces a high amount of radiation and aims it at a small area of the body to treat cancer cells. This radiation treatment can be used to treat various types of cancers, such as early-stage lung cancer or small cancers that have travelled to the brain. On May 22, Queen of the Valley Medical Center began to treat patients with SBRT.

“This machine is incredibly accurate at targeting tumors and metatasises––it’s a great step forward in technology,” said James Knister, MD, radiation oncologist at Queen of the Valley. “We are excited to now offer these treatments right here in Napa.”

For patients, SBRT means fewer radiation treatments, in less time. Depending on the type of cancer and the patient’s individual needs, patients may only need 3 to 5 treatments, instead of the typical 30 to 35 treatments using standard radiation technology. The time required to administer the radiotherapy is just a few minutes and patients are in and out of the room in 30 minutes, from start to finish.

“We can administer higher doses in a more condensed period of time to a more focused area, so we can complete treatment faster. It’s not only more convenient for the patient, it allows them to begin rehabilitation and start the healing process sooner as well,” said Dr. Knister.

During SBRT treatments, patients are awake and comfortable. The linear accelerator has a CT scanner built into it allowing care providers to easily determine the location of the tumor, and compare it to 4D image sets taken at previous simulation appointments. A laser system with cameras watches their breathing motions, and from that, another 4D picture is taken, showing the caregiver with pinpoint accuracy, where to channel the radiation. Then, the table moves the patient into the correct position, and the radiation beam is focused on the tumor.

“A small beam that comes in from many different angles, is funneled into one small area of tissue and, ablated with radiation,” said Dr. Knister. “Since we are able to hone in so narrowly on the tumor, we can ensure we are focusing only on the cancerous areas without disturbing surrounding tissue. This helps to reduce side effects for patients.”

For more information about Queen of the Valley’s cancer program, visit TheQueen.org/cancer.

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