When we say things like “state of the art” and “cutting edge” cancer treatments, what exactly do we mean? In a three-part series, we want to tell you, the patient, about some of the technologies that make UAB a world leader in the care and treatment of all types of cancers. First up is our use of TrueBeam in radiation therapy.
What is TrueBeam?
At UAB, radiation can be completed in half the time or less of typical radiation treatments, thanks to TrueBeam. This radiation technology, available at UAB and nowhere else in the state, can reduce treatment times by 50 percent or more. Some patients may even see greater reductions. For example, treatments that took 40 minutes can be completed in less than one minute with TrueBeam. This advancement opens the door to new treatment plans and improved quality of life in many patients.
“TrueBeam gives us the tools we need to shrink the number of treatment visits for some patients from weeks to days,” says James A. Bonner, MD, chair of UAB’s Department of Radiation Oncology and a senior advisor at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Patients coming to UAB can expect leading-edge care with more options for fighting cancer and hopefully, improved chances for survival.”
TrueBeam, introduced in the US in 2010, can be used to treat tumors anywhere in the body, and is extremely accurate. The precision of TrueBeam, measured in increments of less than a millimeter, comes from real-time patient imaging, positioning, beam shaping, and many other data points synchronized continually during treatment.
“More than 100,000 data points are monitored continually as a treatment progresses, ensuring a true focus on the tumor and avoiding healthy tissue,” says Richard Popple, PhD, a UAB assistant professor of radiation and oncology and physics team leader.
Next up we’ll tell you about how physicians and researchers are leading the way to preserve fertility once treatment of cancer is complete.