What is the latest in cancer-reatment technology?
Paul Mitsuyama, MD, is a radiation oncologist at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center.
Question: I heard Banner Thunderbird is getting a new machine to treat cancer. What is it and what can it do?
Answer: The Elekta Axesse is a unique, state-of-the-art radiation therapy machine that allows doctors to treat cancer patients with an unprecedented level of accuracy and efficiency. The Axesse will enable patients to receive three-dimensional image guided radiation therapy at the time of treatment, and is designed specifically for stereotactic radiosurgery and stereotactic radiation therapy, as well as intensity modulated radiation therapy.
One of its most exciting capabilities is Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy, which allows treatments to be delivered as the machine moves around the stationary patient. This can potentially allow a 20-minute treatment to be delivered in as little as a couple of minutes. Another unique feature of the machine is its six dimensional table, which can adjust patient position with accuracy down to less than a millimeter, or 1/25th of an inch.
The Axesse at Banner Thunderbird, when it begins treating patients in February, will be the first one in the country used in a community hospital.
Question: What kind of cancer can be treated using an Elekta Axesse machine?
Answer: All types of cancer that can be treated with radiation therapy can be treated with the Axesse. In addition, because the Axesse can accurately and precisely deliver higher doses of radiation therapy with each treatment, it allows for some patients to receive therapy who may not have been candidates for radiation treatment previously.
Question: What makes this kind of treatment better for cancer patients?
Answer: Three-dimensional image guidance lets your doctor see the tumor just before treatment is given, and the table gives your doctor an opportunity to fine tune the treatment down to less than a millimeter, just before the therapy is administered. These features of the Axesse will allow your doctors to deliver higher doses of radiation to the tumor more accurately, while minimizing dose to normal organs and structures. We believe this will translate into better cancer control with fewer side effects for the patient.
With this technology, patients who may not have been able to lie still for 10 or 20 minutes will be able to be treated in just a few minutes. This significantly improves patient comfort, and also improves the accuracy of treatment.