Doctors have developed novel ways to perform radiosurgery on benign acoustic tumors using Varian Medical System' RapidArc radiotherapy technology in the Netherlands. This is among the findings in several papers published by the team at VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam.

RapidArc was compared with five-arc dynamic conformal arc radiosurgery for vestibular schwannoma by radiation oncologist Dr. Frank Lagerwaard and his team. Treatment delivery time after patient setup was less than five minutes versus 20 minutes for dynamic conformal arc radiosurgery, says Dr. Lagerwaard. We found that RapidArc planning was completed within 30 minutes in all cases.

The team found that RapidArc plans consistently achieved greater conformity and a reduction in areas of low-dose irradiation compared to conventional radiosurgery. This, together with the benefits of shorter treatment times, allows us to replace our conventional five-arc radiosurgery technique for vestibular schwannomas with RapidArc, added Dr. Lagerwaard.

RapidArc delivers image-guided intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) two to eight times faster than is possible with conventional IMRT. It delivers a precise and efficient treatment in single or multiple arcs of the treatment machine around the patient. It provides greater patient comfort.

Cancer patients at VU University Medical Center are treated on two Varian Clinac 2300 CD linear accelerators, a Trilogy linear accelerator, and the Novalis Tx radiosurgical suite of products, all equipped with RapidArc capability.

Dr. Ben Slotman, chairman of the hospital’s department of radiation oncology, says, In the past we treated about fifteen percent of patients with IMRT but now use RapidArc for a much larger number of IMRT indications. In addition to standard head and neck and prostate treatments, a range of new indications, such as whole brain radiotherapy with simultaneous boost to multiple brain metastases, pelvic tumors and small lung tumors are now being treated with RapidArc.”

Our experience so far is that RapidArc planning and delivery is considerably faster than alternative methods, added Dr. Slotman. We are expanding the range of cancers for which we use RapidArc and we believe we can replace our full stereotactic radiotherapy program with RapidArc, just as has happened with IMRT.

Previous finding of Dr. Wilko Verbakel is substantiated by actual clinical data on more than 100 such patients who have received RapidArc for head and neck tumors. A publication of Dr. Verbakel described how clinical delivery of RapidArc for stereotactic radiotherapy could be completed in as little as ten minutes. More than 300 cancer patients have been treated using RapidArc at VU University Medical Center.

VU University Medical Center was one of the first hospitals in the world to introduce RapidArc a year ago and to my knowledge no other hospital has treated as many patients with this technique, says Rolf Staehelin, Varian’s European marketing director. Our sincere congratulations to everyone in the team at VU for making this happen so quickly. They are carrying out some pioneering work that is making radiotherapy treatments faster and more precise.