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Doctors at Henry Ford Health System Treat Ovarian, Prostate, Lung, and Other Forms of Cancer Using Novalis Tx(TM) Platform for Image-Guided Radiosurgery

Non-invasive treatments make it possible for some cancer patients to avoid the risks of surgery

DETROIT, April 1 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Feeling robust and energetic, Marianne Henn, 68, was on her way to Florida to escape the Michigan cold. She had completed a course of stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) for recurrent ovarian cancer just two days earlier, and her doctor, Kenneth Levin, MD, had no qualms about authorizing the trip.

"It thrilled me, that we could complete her treatment one day, and send her flying off to Florida two days later," said Dr. Levin, who is the director of radiation oncology at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, one of seven hospitals that comprise the Henry Ford Health System, one of the leading health care providers in the Midwest.

Using Novalis Tx(TM) technologies from Varian Medical Systems and BrainLAB, Dr. Levin delivered a course of image-guided SBRT, a form of non-invasive treatment that uses precisely-shaped radiation beams to target tumors from outside the body.

"Had we treated her with conventional surgery, we probably wouldn't have been able to remove the whole tumor, because it was already impinging on her pelvic bone," Dr. Levin said. "She'd have been hospitalized and required general anesthesia, exposed to all the risks of surgery such as pain, bleeding, and infection, and then she would have had to endure a period of recovery. We were able to avoid all that because we could offer her a specially-designed course of SBRT on Novalis Tx without ever making a single incision."

Dr. Levin's treatment for Ms. Henn included four weeks of conventional intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) followed by an SBRT "boost." "The conventional IMRT treatments encompassed the tumor and a bit of the surrounding area, in order to make sure that we were targeting any outlying cancer cells that might have migrated away from the tumor. The stereotactic boost involved treating just the tumor with a much higher dose of radiation in five separate treatment sessions. We can deliver both types of radiation using the Novalis Tx platform."

"In my opinion, Novalis Tx is capable of quickly delivering a wide spectrum of image-guided treatments, from intensity-modulated radiotherapy to stereotactic radiosurgery," said Benjamin Movsas, MD, chairman of the Radiation Oncology Department at Henry Ford Hospital, the flagship hospital at the Henry Ford Health System. Samuel Ryu, MD, director of radiosurgery at Henry Ford, adds, "The speed and versatility of these integrated technologies enable us to provide our patients with the most advanced forms of treatment available using a cost effective strategy."

Treating Prostate Cancer

Dr. Levin used a similar protocol to help Fred Coleman, a man in his seventies battling prostate cancer that had recurred. Coleman's prostate had been surgically removed many years earlier when, in mid-2008, a large mass was found in his right pelvis. A biopsy confirmed a recurrent prostate cancer. He received hormonal therapy prior to being referred to Dr. Levin, but his PSA increased again, within three months.

"That's a sign of an aggressive cancer," Dr. Levin said. "It had to be treated. But this type of surgery is a tough proposition for anyone, let alone a man in his seventies; there's a lot that can go wrong. We decided to treat it non-invasively, using Novalis Tx."

Using the image guidance tools that are part of the Novalis Tx platform, clinicians generated 3-D images of the targeted tumor and surrounding tissues prior to every treatment. "The imaging tools make it possible for us to deliver these highly precise treatments with a great degree of confidence that we're treating the tumor and sparing surrounding tissues and organs," Dr. Levin said. "In this case, I didn't have to just hope that the bladder, bowel, or rectum would be avoided. I could use the imaging system to confirm that the targeted area was well covered and that these sensitive structures were not in the path of the treatment beam."

Treating Lung Cancer

Clinicians at Henry Ford are also using the Novalis Tx to treat lung cancer, which is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. "Early stage lung cancer is often quite curable with surgery," said Dr. Movsas. "The problem is that many lung cancer patients are not candidates for surgery because of other medical problems. In the past, we would have offered these patients conventional radiation, performed daily over seven weeks, but we were only achieving about a 40-50 percent tumor control rate. Using Novalis Tx, we can offer stereotactic body radiotherapy, targeting the tumor with high radiation doses in four focused treatments. The local control rates for this type of treatment are approximately 90 percent. In fact, there are studies being done now, looking into whether SBRT might even compare favorably to surgery for selected lung cancer patients with operable tumors."

About the Novalis Tx Platform

The Novalis Tx platform from Varian Medical Systems and BrainLAB incorporates advanced imaging and treatment tools from both companies. It includes a powerful linear accelerator, which rotates around the patient to target tumors from virtually any angle. A set of sophisticated image guidance and motion management tools provide clinicians with detailed information about the shape, size, and position of a targeted tumor and compensate for tumor motion that occurs during treatment. The Novalis Tx also includes a high-definition beam-shaping device that dynamically shapes and reshapes the treatment beam during a treatment so that it matches the shape of the tumor from every angle of approach.

For further information on cancer services provided by Josephine Ford Cancer Center at Henry Ford Hospital call 1-888-734-JFCC (5322).

Note: High resolution images of Marianne Henn and Kenneth Levin, M.D., are available by clicking on the links below:


    Meryl Ginsberg, Varian Medical Systems
    650-424-6444 or

    Krista Hopson, Henry Ford Health System
    313-874-7207 or

SOURCE Varian Medical Systems, Inc.
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