UR Medicine’s Wilmot Cancer Institute Batavia has added RapidArc technology to its linear accelerator, the machine that delivers beams of high-energy radiation to treat a variety of cancers.
With RapidArc, the radiation beam is shaped and reshaped to tumor’s contours as the treatment is delivered in a seamless 360-degree rotation of the machine. It allows the radiation to be delivered in small, multiple doses with increased precision.
For patients, this means that each treatment will take less time, alleviating the need to hold still for long periods, and the additional precision protects healthy tissue, leading to fewer side effects. This technology can be used for many types of cancer.
“RapidArc is a system that allows this dose to be delivered over a smooth rotation of the machine rather than what we call stop-and-shoot radiation treatment,” says Kevin Mudd, M.D., radiation oncologist at Wilmot Cancer Institute Batavia.
Typically, radiation treatments would require several movements of the treatment gantry, stopping each time to target the next portion of the tumor, which could take 10 minutes or more, Mudd says. RapidArc requires only one or two non-stop rotations of the machine to deliver the same treatment in less time — as little as two to four minutes.
That time difference can be very important for patients, who must lie completely still during treatment.
“Prostate cancer patients, for example, must receive their radiation treatments with a full bladder, and cutting their treatment time in half makes the experience much more comfortable,” says Megan Menzie, RTT, lead radiation therapist.
During its nonstop rotation, RapidArc automatically shapes the radiation beam to fit the contours of the tumor, keeping it tightly focused and protecting nearby healthy tissue. This precision is especially important for patients with head and neck cancers, for example, whose salivary glands, taste buds and spinal cord need to be protected.
“This is the only RapidArc between Buffalo and Rochester, and we’re pretty excited to have it here in Batavia,” Mudd says.