Radiation therapy technicians work with the new TrueBeam system

In a promising development for cancer patients, East Alabama Medical Center recently announced that the TrueBeam linear accelerator system, innovation that enables a radically different approach to treating cancer with image-guided radiotherapy, has successfully been installed. The first patient treatment on the new system took place this week.

The TrueBeam system was engineered from the ground up to deliver more powerful cancer treatments with pinpoint accuracy and precision. It integrates new imaging and motion management technologies within a sophisticated architecture that makes it possible to deliver treatments more quickly while monitoring and compensating for tumor motion, opening the door to new possibilities for the treatment of lung, breast, prostate, head and neck, as well as other cancers that are treatable with radiotherapy. 

“TrueBeam is a real game-changer that will enable us to treat even the most challenging cases with unprecedented speed and precision,” said Dr. John Cabelka, radiation oncologist in the Cancer Center of East Alabama. “With a broad spectrum of new capabilities, TrueBeam breaks the mold in just about every dimension, making it possible for us to offer faster, more targeted treatments to tumors even as they move and change over time.”

With dose delivery rates that are 40 to 140 percent higher than earlier models, the TrueBeam system is commensurately faster. This makes it possible to offer greater patient comfort by shortening treatments, and to improve precision by leaving less time for tumor motion during dose delivery. “Intelligent” automation further speeds treatments with an up to fivefold reduction in the number of steps needed for image guidance and dose delivery.

Simple treatments that once took 15 minutes or more can be completed in less than two once the patient is in position.

“These are significant reductions in treatment time,” said Cabelka. “Patients will spend a whole lot less time lying still, immobilized on a hard surface.”

The precision of the TrueBeam system is measured in increments of less than a millimeter. Critical data points are measured continually as a treatment progresses, ensuring that the system maintains a “true isocenter,” or focal point of treatment.

For lung and other tumors subject to respiratory motion, TrueBeam offers gated RapidArc radiotherapy, which makes it possible to monitor patient breathing and compensate for tumor motion while quickly delivering dose during a continuous rotation around the patient. 

“During the last decade, lung cancer became the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women in the United States,” Cabelka said. "With TrueBeam, we can treat a moving lung tumor as if it were standing still."

TrueBeam imaging technology can produce the 3-D images used to fine-tune tumor targeting in 60 percent less time. Additionally, it makes it possible to create images using 25 percent less X-ray dose.

“This machine allows us to choose an imaging mode that minimizes the amount of X-rays needed to generate an image — and that’s good for our patients,” Cabelka said.

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