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UK Hospitals Commence Advanced Stereotactic Lung Cancer Treatments Using RapidArc Radiosurgery

CRAWLEY, U.K., Sept. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Several National Health Service hospitals in the UK have begun delivering stereotactic ablative body radiotherapy (SABR) using RapidArc® radiosurgery technology for lung cancer patients as an alternative option to surgery. Hospitals in Glasgow, London, Wirral and Guildford are using equipment and software from Varian Medical Systems (NYSE: VAR) to attack lung tumors using carefully-shaped, high dose X-ray beams, in treatments that are completed in just three to eight sessions.

Lung cancer is notoriously difficult to treat.  Delivered using fast and efficient RapidArc technology from Varian, SABR is offering early-stage non-small-cell lung cancer patients—including those who are inoperable or elderly—a non-invasive treatment option. From 2008 to 2010, there were over 40 published clinical papers on SABR for the treatment of early stage lung cancer, plus approximately 30 review papers.

The Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford has delivered seven SABR treatments using two Varian Clinac® iX linear accelerators with RapidArc technology. A satellite radiotherapy centre in nearby Redhill is due to open next year and Royal Surrey clinicians intend to extend their SABR treatments when the new site is up and running.

"Stereotactic ablative body radiotherapy has been offered to patients who are mostly elderly and inoperable," said Veni Ezhil, clinical lead for radiotherapy, "although we have also treated patients who opted for this treatment rather than surgery."

"The fact that a county hospital such as ours can offer such an advanced radiotherapy treatment for such a notoriously hard-to-treat type of cancer in patients who are unsuitable for surgery is significant and we have received visits from similar hospitals across the country to see these treatments being delivered," she added.

The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, Wirral, was the first UK Varian centre to introduce a SABR lung program and over 60 patients from across the north west of England and North Wales have been treated with a Varian Clinac iX using a fixed field intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) technique.

"The couch is comfortable for patients during the treatment and the excellent quality of the image guidance gives the multi-disciplinary SABR team the confidence to deliver the ablative doses required," said Angela Baker, lead research radiographer. "The total time the patient is in the treatment room for initial patient positioning, pre-treatment image guidance and the treatment itself is just 25 minutes, and the patient only needs to attend for eight visits or fewer."

The West of Scotland Cancer Centre in Glasgow has treated over 40 patients to date. "We have been very happy with the treatments so far," says Suzanne Smith, head of physics treatment planning. "As the dose is higher when you deliver it over fewer treatment sessions, the course of treatment is completed in just five appointments rather than up to thirty-six return visits."

Surgical treatments for lung cancer are in-patient treatments and patients may require several weeks' recovery in hospital. By comparison, SABR is an outpatient treatment.

At University College London Hospital, four patients aged over 70 have received SABR treatments using a TrueBeam™ linear accelerator to deliver RapidArc radiosurgery. RapidArc treatments involve continuously shaping and reshaping the treatment beam to match the shape of the tumor from every angle as the machine rotates around the patient, as opposed to the 'step and shoot' nature of conventional radiotherapy.

"The treatments have been much faster than we were expecting for something so complex," said Nazima Haji, radiotherapy technical lead. "We originally allocated an hour per treatment session but have since brought that down considerably. The majority of time taken is for set-up and imaging -- the actual beam is only active for about two minutes. The main advantage is delivering this treatment on the TrueBeam with its integrated imaging and enhanced image quality."

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide, representing 18.2 per cent of all cancer deaths in 2010 according to the World Health Organization. Despite recent improvements in survival for many other types of cancer, five-year survival rates for lung cancer remain relatively poor, mainly because by the time diagnosis is made, it is often well advanced and treatment options are limited.                   

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

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, 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, digital detectors, and image processing workstations for X-ray imaging in medical, scientific, and industrial applications and also supplies high-energy X-ray devices for cargo screening and non-destructive testing applications.  Varian Medical Systems employs approximately 6,100 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 or follow us on

SOURCE Varian Medical Systems
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