RIO DE JANEIRO, July 11, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Advances in radiotherapy for the treatment of cancer were among the many topics discussed during four days of scientific presentations at the Thirteenth Annual Congress of the Brazilian Society of Radiotherapy (SBRT), held in Rio de Janeiro last month. The Congress, attended by 900 clinical professionals from across Latin America, featured distinguished experts from around the world who discussed the use of advanced forms of radiotherapy in the treatment of breast, prostate, colon, brain, gynecological, and head and neck cancer.
"Radiotherapy is more useful and effective today than at any other time in history, thanks mostly to important developments in technology," said Dr. Carlos Manoel Mendonca de Araujo, President of the Brazilian Society of Radiotherapy (SBRT) and Director of the Radiation Oncology Department of the National Cancer Institute (INCA) in Rio de Janeiro. "The government of Brazil has recognized the importance of modern radiotherapy in the fight against cancer, by acquiring new equipment for the public hospitals and by raising reimbursement rates for this type of treatment. We are very likely to see, in coming years, a significant upgrade of the radiotherapy resources at treatment centers across Brazil and Latin America."
Radiotherapy is the carefully planned therapeutic use of high-energy X-ray beams that are able to kill fast-growing cancer cells. The most modern form of radiotherapy uses special beam-shaping technology to focus the beam on a targeted tumor while minimizing exposure of surrounding healthy tissues. This type of radiotherapy, called "intensity-modulated radiation therapy" (IMRT) is being adopted by many of Brazil's cancer clinics. Sometimes IMRT treatments are guided using real-time imaging to further enhance treatment precision by accounting for changes in the tumor and surrounding anatomy over a course of treatment, which often requires up to 40 treatment sessions over five to seven weeks. This "image-guided radiation therapy" (IGRT) is also being adopted in some of Brazil's leading clinics, including INCA and other institutions. Many of them utilize technology from Varian Medical Systems (NYSE: VAR).
"Many of the presentations at this year's Congress were made by doctors from these institutions, who have now amassed considerable experience with image-guidance and IMRT," said Dr. de Araujo. "Our hope is to continue to expand on the number of treatment centers fully equipped and capable of delivering these advanced forms of treatment, so that most people in Brazil requiring radiation therapy can gain access to this level of care."
Advances in beam shaping and image guided treatment have also given rise to another emerging approach for treating cancer. Stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT), a technique that is spreading in both developed and developing countries around the world, involves delivery of higher doses with great precision more quickly, over just one to five treatment sessions rather than up to 40. The shortened treatment times have the potential to improve access to care and to make treatment more cost effective for patients and treatment centers, without sacrifice in treatment outcomes. Several of the presentations at this year's Congress covered the potential benefits of SBRT, which were also highlighted in a recent paper published by an international team of experts in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics.(1)
"For the foreseeable future, the main goals of the Congress will be not only the administration of other scientific meetings about radiation technology and its benefits, but also to demonstrate the need for new radiotherapy centers in Brazil, properly equipped for cancer treatment," said Dr. Robson Ferrigno, the next President of SBRT.
About Varian Medical Systems
Varian Medical Systems, Inc. is the world's leading manufacturer of medical devices and software for treating cancer and other medical conditions with radiotherapy, radiosurgery, 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 5,500 people who are located at manufacturing sites in North America, Europe, and China and approximately 70 sales and support offices around the world. For more information, visit http://www.varian.com.
(1) Nagata Y et al. Stereotactic Radiotherapy Of Primary Lung Cancer And Other Targets: Results Of Consultant Meeting Of The International Atomic Energy Agency. Int. J. Radiation Oncology Biol. Phys., Vol. 79, No. 3, pp. 660–669, 2011.
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