Radiation Oncology: Treatment
One of the early innovators in the use of megavoltage radiation therapy to treat cancer, PAMF's Department of Radiation Oncology continues to be on the leading edge of technology. PAMF is currently among a minority of outpatient facilities that offer two advanced radiation therapy techniques: three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3DCRT) and an extension of this approach known as intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). These methods precisely target the cancer tumor while protecting surrounding tissues and organs. PAMF was the first non-hospital facility in the Bay Area to implement IMRT.
In addition, PAMF has added a Varian Medical Systems' On-Board Imager (also referred to as image guided radiation therapy [IGRT]), an automated system that uses high-resolution X-rays to produce contrasting images of cancerous tumors and surrounding soft tissue. The On-Board Imager allows physicians to target the cancerous tumor more precisely during treatment, thereby ensuring healthy tissues are not exposed to radiation. Without this device it can be challenging to locate the tumor precisely during radiation therapy.
Also, PAMF has acquired a Respiratory Gating System for tumors that move due to a patient's normal breathing, this is a system that monitors a patient's breathing cycle and only turns on the treatment beam when the area to be treated is precisely in the treatment beam.
PAMF acquired much of the technology used to provide these therapies through a special partnership with Palo Alto-based Varian Medical Systems, the world's leading manufacturer of integrated cancer therapy systems. Varian has designated PAMF as one of only two official Varian Learning Centers in the United States, and cancer specialists from all over the world visit the facility to view the technology in action.
The Radiation Oncology Department also offers hyperthermia treatments, which in selected cases can enhance the effectiveness of radiation therapy.
Several state-of-the-art technologies support these advanced therapy techniques, including:
- Medical linear accelerators.
- Sophisticated treatment planning software and other information management systems.
- A computed tomography (CT)-based simulation/planning process that helps ensure patients receive care designed especially for their individual needs.
The Radiation Oncology Department works closely with other specialty departments to ensure that patients receive the most effective, advanced treatment with the lowest possible risk of side effects or damage to healthy tissue. Doctors continually evaluate new treatment methods and analyze new data on radiation therapy, ensuring the optimal transfer of evolving technology to clinical care.
In addition, PAMF's outpatient setting allows patients to receive treatment in an efficient fashion.
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