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RapidArc Radiotherapy Technology Enabling Fast, Accurate Treatments for Pennsylvania Cancer Patients

Prostate and brain cancer patients were the first in the area to benefit

PALO ALTO, Calif., April 22 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Two patients, both in their 70s, have become the first people in Allentown, Pennsylvania, to receive a new, faster, more precise form of radiotherapy for cancer. A 72-year-old man was treated for prostate cancer, while a 70-year-old woman received treatment for a brain tumor at the base of her skull. Doctors at Lehigh Valley Hospital used RapidArc(TM) radiotherapy and image-guidance technology from Varian Medical Systems (NYSE: VAR) to target their tumors with carefully shaped radiation beams.

"The prostate cancer patient's tumor was close to the bladder, rectum, and many other sensitive organs and tissues," said Charles Andrews, MD, radiation oncologist. "Using RapidArc, we are able to deliver treatments very quickly, concentrating the dose on the tumor while minimizing exposure of nearby sensitive structures."

For the patient with the brain tumor, Dr. Andrews was able to deliver a RapidArc treatment designed to minimize exposure of her eyes, pituitary gland, and other sensitive organs and tissues in the head and neck.

For both patients, the RapidArc treatments were much faster than would have been possible using earlier generations of technology. "With RapidArc, prostate cancer treatments that once took ten minutes to deliver can now be completed in just two minutes," Dr. Andrews said. "The typical set-up and treatment time for a brain cancer patient used to be about 40 minutes, but with RapidArc, we're completing these treatments in just over ten minutes."

As a result, cancer patients spend much less time immobilized on the treatment table. In addition to improving patient comfort, faster treatments help reduce the chance of tumor motion during treatment. According to Dr. Andrews, for a prostate cancer patient, as the bladder fills, the tumor can move by several millimeters. "The RapidArc treatments are delivered so quickly that there really isn't enough time for the tumor to move," said Dr. Andrews.

Hospitals and cancer centers from around the world have now used RapidArc radiotherapy technology for the treatment of prostate, head and neck, lung, brain, spine, bone, gynecological, and soft tissue cancers. The American Cancer Society's most recent estimates show that in 2008 there were 70,110 new cancer cases in the state of Pennsylvania. "RapidArc represents a significant step forward in what is possible," said Victor Risch, MD, director of radiation oncology. "We have installed this capability on two treatment machines, and we will be offering RapidArc to patients whenever it's an appropriate treatment option."

About Lehigh Valley Health Network

Lehigh Valley Health Network includes three hospital facilities - two in Allentown and one in Bethlehem, Pa.; eight health centers caring for communities in four counties; numerous primary and specialty care physician practices throughout the region; pharmacy, imaging and lab services; and preferred provider services through Valley Preferred. Specialty care includes trauma care at the region's busiest, most-experienced trauma center treating adults and children, burn care at the regional Burn Center, kidney and pancreas transplants; perinatal/neonatal, cardiac, cancer, and neurology and complex neurosurgery capabilities including national certification as a Primary Stroke Center. Lehigh Valley Health Network has been recognized by US News & World Report for 13 consecutive years as one of America's Best Hospitals, is a national Magnet hospital for excellence in nursing, and has been honored seven straight years among the top integrated health networks in the U.S. Additional information is available at

About Varian Medical Systems

Varian Medical Systems, Inc., 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 5,100 people who are located at manufacturing sites in North America and Europe and in its 79 offices and facilities around the world. For more information, visit

    John Worlton, Varian Medical Systems
    650-424-6438 or

SOURCE Varian Medical Systems, Inc.
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