The most advanced radiation therapy (radiotherapy) systems for the non-surgical treatment of cancerous tumors has recently come to New York Methodist Hospital’s (NYM) Institute for Cancer Care.
The system, called TrueBeam, is a service of the hospital’s Department of Radiation Oncology. It allows NYM’s oncology team to target tumors anywhere in a patient’s body, from almost any angle, with ultra-concentrated beams of cancer-killing radiation, and to do so with such precision that some patients will be able to safely undergo a full, pain-free radiotherapy session in only minutes.
“External beam radiotherapy is always a carefully orchestrated process,” says Hani Ashamalla, M.D., chairperson of radiation oncology at New York Methodist. “Our ‘gold standard’ for radiation therapy is to treat a patient’s cancer while minimizing any side effects or damage to healthy tissue, down to the smallest of margins. That is why each patient’s treatment plan is carefully mapped out and administered by a team of cancer experts that includes radiation oncologists, nurses, radiation therapists and even nuclear physicists.
“However, during an external beam radiotherapy session, even a patient’s chest rising from a deep breath can cause a tumor to become a ‘moving target,’” Ashamalla went on. “One of the key benefits of this system is that it can track a tumor’s location during these small movements, ensuring that it is able to safely administer a high dose with pinpoint accuracy throughout the therapy. It can also dramatically reduce the time required for sessions. This is truly a next-generation radiotherapy system.”
“Whenever we consider adding new technology, we first ask ourselves, ‘What can it do for our patients?'” says Bahaa Mokhtar, M.D., vice chairperson of radiation oncology at NYM. “What is most important to us is that this system can increase a patient’s odds in his or her fight against cancer. As radiation oncologists, our field is highly reliant on technological advances, so when there’s a new leap, we are enthusiastic, but that enthusiasm stems from our mission to maximize the effectiveness of patients’ radiotherapy while also maximizing their quality of life both during and after their treatment.”