New Varian brachytherapy tool cuts treatment time

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A new brachytherapy planning tool from Varian Medical Systems enables clinics to streamline prostate cancer treatments and increase patient comfort. The Vitesse system is being used in more than 25 hospitals worldwide to speed up planning and enable treatments to take place within a day, the company said.

According to Gyorgy Kovacs, MD, head of the Interdisciplinary Brachytherapy Centre at Kiel University Hospital in Germany -- one of the first departments to introduce the Vitesse system -- treatment planning for HDR (High-Dose-Rate) brachytherapy prostate procedures has been cut from 90 minutes to just 30 minutes per patient.

"As well as the time saving," said Dr Kovacs in a release, "you also find that the dose conformity is better and you are better able to spare adjacent critical organs from unnecessary exposure, so it's not only faster it also results in more effective treatments and higher cure rates."

Varian says that clinical evidence suggests that the most effective means of treating high-risk prostate cancer is by delivering high doses of radiation in a highly targeted manner directly to the cancerous tissues. Using the Vitesse HDR brachytherapy system, clinics are able to accomplish this with just one or two high-dose treatments in a single day.

Varian plans to show the latest version of the Vitesse system at the upcoming American Association of Physicists in Medicine meeting in Seattle, Washington, July 24-27, 2005.