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Italy’s First RapidArc Radiotherapy Treatment Takes Place At Humanitas Clinic

The Humanitas Clinic in Milan delivered the faster form of radiotherapy using RapidArc technology from Varian Medical Systems to a pancreatic cancer patient. "We see three major benefits with RapidArc," added Dr. Marta Scorsetti, lead clinician at Humanitas. "The short treatment time under two minutes in this case decreases the chances of the patient moving during treatment, which helps to improve precision. RapidArc enables us to spare more healthy tissue from receiving unnecessary dose and we believe this additional precision will enable us to increase the dose, which should contribute to a higher cure rate." While rotating continuously around the patient with RapidArc, Varian's Clinac medical linear accelerator can target radiation beams at a tumor. Conventional intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) treatments are slower and more difficult for radiotherapy radiographers and patients as they target tumors utilizing a complex sequence of fixed beams from multiple angles. Dr. Scorsetti said, "The patient reacted very well to the new treatment and he was comfortable throughout the two minutes he was on the treatment table. As the overall treatment time was reduced, we will be able to treat more patients and consequently reduce waiting times." Dr. Scorsetti said pancreatic cancers are not traditional candidates for complex treatments with intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) but the introduction of RapidArc means that such patients as well as prostate and head and neck cancer patients can receive the most advanced radiotherapy treatments in a short time. Doctors at Humanitas believe the volumetric arc therapy treatments offered by RapidArc are at the cutting edge of patient care. "While helical tomotherapy has been introduced for specialty treatments by some centers in Italy, we are going a big step further by introducing a volumetric treatment approach that is much faster and far more comfortable for the patient," said Urso Gaetano, a medical physicist at the hospital. "What multi-slice CT scanning did for CT, RapidArc does for radiotherapy." RapidArc delivers a volumetric intensity-modulated radiation therapy treatment in a single or multiple arcs of the treatment machine around the patient and makes it possible to deliver advanced image-guided IMRT two to eight times faster than is possible with conventional IMRT or helical tomotherapy. Radiotherapy studies correlate the ability to spare more healthy tissue with reduced complications and better outcomes.