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Estonian Cancer Patients Have Access to More Conformal Radiotherapy Treatments for First Time with Unveiling of Advanced Varian Treatment Machine
Date:1/15/2009

TALLINN, Estonia, Jan. 15 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Cancer patients in Estonia now have access to advanced radiotherapy techniques, such as intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), for the first time with the official unveiling shortly before Christmas of an advanced Varian Medical Systems treatment machine at the North Estonia Regional Hospital in the country's capital, Tallinn. The opening ceremony attracted publicity on Estonian national TV and in national newspapers.

North Estonia Regional Hospital, which serves two-thirds of Estonia's 1.4 million population, has doubled its linear accelerator capacity with the acquisition of a Varian Clinac(R) DHX equipped with a Millennium(TM) 120-leaf collimator, enabling more conformal radiotherapy treatment. "We have moved from conventional radiotherapy to conformal radiotherapy for the first time," says senior physicist Eduard Gerskevitch. "The collimator's finer leaves allow clinicians to conform the treatment beam tighter to the tumor and limit irradiation of normal healthy tissue.

"This new equipment has enabled us to improve the quality of our treatments while reducing waiting lists. Our waiting times have reduced from five weeks to three weeks, although we've achieved this with a heavy workload on our machines."

This workload increased shortly after the new machine arrived, when an older device at the only other Estonian radiotherapy hospital broke down and all that hospital's patients were transferred to the North Estonian Regional Hospital. "At present we are the only hospital in the country treating patients with a linear accelerator and we are extremely busy," said Maire Kuddu, chief radiation oncologist. Staff at the hospital are working double-shift on both machines as they attempt to cope with more than 130 patients a day.

Despite this heavy workload, the team has been able to introduce advanced IMRT for head and neck cancer patients. Intensity modulated radiotherapy enables clinicians to 'sculpt' the dose to the shape of the tumor and avoid more surrounding healthy tissue. For head and neck patients, it means more precise treatments and less potential harm to nearby salivary and parotid glands.

The new device was funded by the hospital with support from the International Atomic Energy Agency, which provided additional financing and helped to train staff in the use of the equipment, and the Environmental Investment Centre, which helped to decommission an older Cobalt-based treatment unit and refurbish the bunker for the new accelerator.

"We are delighted to be able to double both our own and the country's linear accelerator treatment capacity and introduce advanced radiotherapy techniques at the same time," adds Maire Kuddu. She said the hospital's future plans include equipping the new machine with an On-Board Imager(R) and introducing Varian's RapidArc(TM) capability for fast and precise image-guided IMRT.

"It is recognised that this is a major improvement in the country's cancer treatment capabilities but this is just a start," added Eduard Gerskevitch. "The number of treatment units is still very low compared with our needs and we will need to see further investment in radiotherapy in the future."

Editorial contact: Neil Madle, Varian Medical Systems, +44 7786 526068

About Varian Medical Systems

Varian Medical Systems, Inc. (NYSE: VAR), of Palo Alto, California, is the world's leading manufacturer of medical devices and software for treating cancer and other medical conditions with radiotherapy, radiosurgery, proton therapy, and brachytherapy. The company supplies informatics software for managing comprehensive cancer clinics, radiotherapy centers and medical oncology practices. Varian is a premier supplier of tubes and digital detectors for X-ray imaging in medical, scientific, and industrial applications and also supplies X-ray imaging products for cargo screening and industrial inspection. Varian Medical Systems employs approximately 4,800 people who are located at manufacturing sites in North America and Europe and in its 60 sales and support offices around the world. For more information, visit http://www.varian.com/.


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SOURCE Varian Medical Systems, Inc.
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