Durango Cancer Center enhances radiation therapy with new technology

(DURANGO, COLO.) - The Durango Cancer Center, a Mercy Regional Medical Center clinic, recently installed a state-of-the-art Trilogy linear accelerator. The device is made by Varian Medical Systems.

The new linear accelerator is similar to the one that it replaced in that it is capable of accurately delivering high-energy radiation beams to tumors and lesions in the body. The new unit is different because it delivers doses at faster rates, allowing treatment times to be reduced by as much as 80 percent, and in some cases, resulting in fewer total treatment sessions.

With the new device, radiation oncologists can perform stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT). SRS is a painless, non-surgical procedure used to treat benign and malignant tumors in or near the brain. Similarly, SBRT is a non-surgical radiation therapy that painlessly treats tumors in areas of the body such as the lungs, liver, abdomen, and spine.

Radiosurgery and radiotherapy are often used to treat cancer patients who are poor candidates for normal, invasive surgery because of age or health reasons. In other cases, the area to be treated may be inaccessible through normal surgical approaches, or too close to other vital body structures.

This technology and the enhanced capabilities it brings will directly benefit patients in the region whose course of care includes radiation therapy, said Jonathan Clark, M.D., radiation oncologist at the Durango Cancer Center.

The new device also has robust imaging capabilities. Its three-dimensional image-guidance system allows doctors to use cone-beam CT scans to map and target the exact coordinates of a tumors location. Highly accurate targeting and delivery of radiation reduces the risk of damage to healthy tissue surrounding a tumor. Image guidance may be used before radiation treatments or during a procedurein real-timeto ensure radiation beam accuracy.

The Trilogys radiation beam is delivered from a gantry that rotates around the patient, who remains perfectly still on a table. In the course of a treatment session, the units rotating gantry can sequentially deliver multiple radiation beams from various angles. Radiation beams can be shaped to conform to unique tumor shapes, and also may be manipulated to avoid damaging other body structures. The Trilogys motion management system allows radiation delivery to be synchronized with tumor motion caused by a patients breathing.

The Durango Cancer Centers Trilogy system was acquired through a lease-to-purchase arrangement with the help of Mercy Health Foundation. Leasing the Trilogy unit allowed the technology to be available to patients in the region immediately, while Mercy Health Foundation undertakes a three-year campaign to raise funds to purchase the equipment, ensuring it will benefit cancer patients for years to come.

We are very thankful to the donors who support programs like this through contributions to Mercy Health Foundation. They make a difference, said Dr. Clark.

High-energy radiation does not remove tumors, but damages the DNA of cancer cells so they cannot reproduce. After a course of radiation therapy, benign tumors may shrink over 18 to 24 months, while malignant tumors typically shrink more quickly. Some tumors dont shrink, but stop growing when treated using radiation therapy.

High-energy radiation therapy has been used in the U.S. to treat cancer since the early 1960s. Nearly two-thirds of cancer patients in the U.S. are treated using radiation therapy.

Mercys Durango Cancer Center and Southwest Oncology, a medical oncology clinic, are part of the Centura Health Cancer Network, the largest network of cancer clinics, services, and providers in Colorado.

About Mercy Regional Medical Center
Mercy Regional Medical Center is an 82-bed acute care hospital in Durango, Colorado. As a non-profit hospital that is part of the Centura Health network, Mercy is committed to improving the health and wellness of the communities it serves in the Four Corners region. See Mercy Regional Medical Center for more information.

About Centura Health
Centura Health connects individuals, families and neighborhoods across Colorado and western Kansas with more than 6,000 physicians and 18,100 of the best hearts and minds in health care. Through our 15 hospitals, six senior living communities, health neighborhoods, physician practices and clinics, home care and hospice services, and Flight For Life Colorado, we are making the regions best health care accessible and affordable in every community we serve. We believe you can inspire the people you care about to live healthier lives by encouraging them to do the little things that can make a big difference. Were Centura Health, and were here for your health. For information on Centura Health or any of the facilities in our network, please visit www.centura.org.