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The Institut Català d'Oncologia (ICO), has installed the world’s most advanced linear accelerator for radiotherapy, the Varian TrueBeamTM, at its center in Hospitalet de Llobregat (Barcelona). It is the second system of its kind to be installed in Europe and only the third in the world (there is one in Zurich and one at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, in New York).

The TrueBeamTM is safer and more accurate than pervious systems, and enables tracking of tumors that are small and/or localized to more sensitive areas, all with less side effects than ever possible. The new device was presented during the 29th Congress of the European Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ESTRO), which drew some 4,500 experts from the field.

Safer and more accurate radiotherapy

In the past few years, radiotherapy research has focused on improving treatment accuracy and efficacy. The aim is to deliver the maximum dose of radiation possible to the tumor without affecting healthy surrounding tissue. The TrueBeamTM enables radiotherapy of a broader range of tumors—for example, tumors that are very small, or located near vital organs (e.g prostate tumors; or head and neck tumors, which neighbor the medulla). The new device also causes less side effects while maintaining maximum efficacy. “Obviously, patients wants to be cured, but not at any price: they increasingly value quality of life.”, explained Ferran Guedea, head of the Servei d'Oncologia Radioteràpica at the ICO center in Hospitalet de Llobregat.

The new generation of linear accelerators offers major health advances. For example, it enables treatment of prostate cancer without common side effects such as urinary incontinence or impotence.

“To date, radiotherapy for head and neck tumors gave patients permanent dry mouth, because the radiation affected the parotid glands, which are responsible for salivary function. With the new techniques, we can reduce the dose that reaches the glands, thereby avoiding this side effect.”, added Guedea.

The ICO is a center of reference in oncology radiotherapy. It pioneered use of intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) and image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT) in Spain. Last year it introduced extracranial stereotactic radiotherapy for lung tumors, becoming the first Spanish public health center to incorporate this technique, which is indicated for patients with small lung tumors that cannot be excised surgically. To date, the ICO has treated 50 patients with this method.


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