New therapy treats cancer faster, allows for better targeting of tumor

STEVENS POINT, WI – A new way to fight lung cancer that can reduce treatment time and give doctors another tool to better target tumors is now offered in central Wisconsin.

Stevens Point Cancer Center, a partnership between Ministry Saint Michael’s Hospital and Marshfield Clinic, has the technology and expertise to use stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT).

SBRT and conventional radiation therapy both use carefully placed beams of radiation that focus on the tumor and minimize radiation exposure of surrounding tissues and organs however, SBRT delivers high doses of radiation quickly. This contrasts with conventional radiation therapy which delivers a small dose each day for many weeks.

This treatment technology, created by Varian Medical Systems of Palo Alto, Calif., offers a noninvasive option for early-stage non-small cell lung cancer patients. It is particularly offered to patients who meet certain criteria and cannot undergo surgery due to other complications.

“Treatments for lung tumors are reduced to less than four minutes, using the high-intensity mode on the TrueBeam system,” said Dr. Patricia Lillis, a Marshfield Clinic radiation oncologist who sees patients at Stevens Point Cancer Center. “This means we’re able to shorten the treatment time considerably, in some cases treatments can be reduced to as little as 15 minutes per session with patients requiring only 3-5 sessions of treatment.”

In 2014, Stevens Point Cancer Center at Ministry Saint Michael’s Hospital will celebrate 15 years of providing comprehensive cancer care to area residents and making significant technological improvements along the way.

In 2012 Ministry Saint Michael’s Hospital commenced treating cancer patients at the Stevens Point Cancer Center using the new TrueBeam system from Varian Medical Systems and with it, offering the latest advances in radiation treatment for cancer care.

Varian’s TrueBeam system also is used for many other forms of radiation treatment, including image-guided radiation therapy and intensity-modulated radiation therapy, which allow treatments to be specifically designed to provide the most effective radiation therapy for each patient.

“It’s extremely satisfying to make this type of announcement knowing it will make such a difference in the lives of our patients,” said Lillis, who is one of the first physicians in the area to offer this therapy. “Keeping quality care close to home is important, and to offer this type of treatment for cancer care in central Wisconsin is truly remarkable.”

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