Edge Linear Accelerator 

The Edge Linear Accelerator at Parkview Comprehensive Cancer Center: Accurate and Aggressive Cancer Treatment

The Varian Edge Linear Accelerator is found at many of the top cancer treatment centers across the country, and soon it will be located right here in Pueblo. Parkview Health System is investing in this state-of-the-art technology to offer patients with cancer the most accurate radiation delivery device on the market.

“This will be the first Edge in Southern Colorado, and it will be configured to treat every type of cancer and every patient whose care plan includes radiation therapy – from the most common cancers to the most advanced treatments,” says Suraj Singh, MD, DABR, Medical Director of Radiation Oncology at the Parkview Comprehensive Cancer Center. “We will be offering world class cancer treatments close to home for patients in Southern Colorado.”

Radiation therapy is one of the most common options for cancer treatments. It uses high-energy particles or waves, such as X-rays, gamma rays, electron beams, or protons, to destroy or damage cancer cells. Depending on a patient’s treatment plan, radiation treatments can be just a few days, or for some cancers, daily treatments over a span of several weeks.

Stereotactic radiosurgery, which the Edge provides, enhances the radiation therapy options and makes them available to more patients. Radiosurgery is a type of external radiation therapy that gives a large dose of radiation to a hard-to-reach tumor. It delivers accurate and aggressive cancer treatments to tumors of the lung, prostate, brain, spine, and other areas of the body – pinpointing tumors with the highest dose rate available for faster treatment times.

“This new technology will be a huge win for patients who need daily treatments over multiple weeks,” says Dr. Singh. “They’ll notice much shorter treatment times, allowing them to spend less time away from work and more time in their normal daily activities. In some cases, we can cut the total treatment time by more than half.”

The high doses are possible because the Edge is coupled with real-time, high-quality imaging to target the tumor location and protect the surrounding healthy tissues. And during treatment, advanced cameras monitor thousands of points on the skin to track a patient’s natural movements, like breathing. If the patient’s treatment area moves outside an acceptable tolerance, by even a millimeter, the radiation dosage is paused until the patient is back in an optimal position.

This motion monitoring (IDENTIFY) is particularly beneficial for breast cancer treatment. Because the beam stops with motion outside tolerance, it protects against radiation exposure to the nearby heart.

“Our patients will be treated with greater confidence due to the high precision and accuracy of this machine. Our team is proud to soon offer this cutting-edge technology to the Southern Colorado Community,” said Shelley Adams, RN, RTT, Director of Radiation Oncology at Parkview.

The Edge also comes equipped with Hyperarc technology, which is an optimized, automated way to treat Stereotactic Radiosurgery. HyperArc enhances Parkview’s radiosurgery program by facilitating and simplifying delivery of complex radiosurgery treatments. Using HyperArc, clinicians are delivering non-coplanar SRS treatments within the 15-20-minute time slot normally allocated for conventional radiotherapy treatments.

HyperArc treatments are planned using the latest version of the Eclipse™ treatment planning system. It capitalizes on the unique capabilities of Varian's TrueBeam® and Edge™ platform, and utilizes a simple “one-click” workflow that automates the process, including optional intrafraction imaging and couch rotations.

“The triple threat of the Edge paired with Hyperarc and Varian's IDENTIFY guidance system will enable us to treat all of our patients efficiently, safely and with submillimeter accuracy,” explains Nicole Bunda-Randall, Chief Physicist at Parkview Radiation Oncology.

Radiation therapy is used alone or in combination with other therapies, such as chemotherapy, biological therapy or surgery. Parkview Comprehensive Cancer Center offers all of these treatments and services, along with a full complement of support and wellness programs, from nutrition and social workers to financial and genetic counselors.

Multidisciplinary Cancer Care: What it is and Why it is Important

Written by Dr. Suraj Singh, Medical Director of Parkview's Radiation Oncology Department

There are many ways to treat cancer today.  We are extremely fortunate to have a number of treatment options that are leading to increased survival rates and better outcomes.  However, keeping track of all these options – and determining how to best apply them to individual patients – demands a more coordinated approach.

This is precisely where multidisciplinary care plays a critical role.  Rather than having the course of a patient treatment decided by one physician, multidisciplinary care involves a team approach of a group of experts and healthcare professionals. 

“It involves all branches of oncology working together to attain an optimal treatment plan for patients,” explained Dr. Suraj Singh, radiation oncologist at Parkview Medical Center in Pueblo.

The goal is to expeditiously diagnose and deliver the best possible treatment while helping to empower patients and maintain their quality of life.  This requires a wide range of specialists who each bring important perspectives to the table, including:

 

  • Oncologists from all disciplines: surgical, medical and radiation physicians, diagnostic imaging physicians, and pathologists
  • Other cancer specialists: nurse navigators, physical therapists, genetic counselors, nurses, nutritionists

“Having physicians from different specialties on the care team is critical in mapping out the most successful treatment plan,” Singh said.  “It can provide patients access to treatment options that their primary cancer physician may not have considered, such as a clinical trial.”

There are also issues that potentially arise that go beyond treatment itself.  Genetic counselors, for instance, can help patients navigate options of genetic testing, and social workers can help determine if a recommended treatment plan will work with the lifestyle of a patient. 

“A social worker might mention to the doctors that the patient may have significant transportation issues and therefore potentially couldn’t participate in a clinical trial,” added Singh.

Parkview’s Multidisciplinary Focus

Multidisciplinary care is considered the gold standard for diagnosis and treatment of cancer today and you can find it at Parkview.

Singh recalls a patient with advanced breast cancer that was quickly growing.  The patient’s medical oncologist reviewed her scans with Singh, and the two had a conference call with the patient’s Breast surgeon the same day.  The three physicians worked together to develop a personalized treatment plan to treat the patient with a combination of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation.

“There are many times where I will simply walk upstairs to speak to the medical or surgical oncologist about a side effect that my patient is having,” commented Singh.  “We all work together to achieve the best outcomes for our patients.”