SEATTLE, Feb. 10, 2005 - The Swedish Cancer Institute will sign a strategic partnership and technology-applications agreement this week with medical-technology leader Elekta Inc. for Elekta Synergy®. This new image-guided radiation-therapy (IGRT) treatment system is the first of its kind to target cancerous tumors via an integrated, three-dimensional imaging system. In 2005, Swedish will acquire up to four Elekta linear accelerators equipped with IGRT software for use in radiation treatment of cancerous tumors.
IGRT is an FDA-approved technology, initially developed through collaboration between Elekta and Michigan's William Beaumont Hospital. It has an advanced scanning capability that allows physicians to digitally "see" a malignant tumor at the time of treatment. This means that even if a tumor has moved - because of a patient's breathing, heartbeat, gastrointestinal changes or other activities - clinicians can now aim a radiation beam far more precisely and spare surrounding tissue and vital organs.
Swedish is one of the first facilities in the world selected by Elekta of Norcross, Ga. for the introduction of IGRT.
"We chose to work with the Swedish Cancer Institute because it has the breadth and depth of professional resources to integrate new clinical therapies quickly and effectively," said Anthony De Carolis, president and CEO of Elekta Inc. "Elekta Synergy® offers physicians a valuable tool in the battle against cancer, providing a new level of clinical confidence. With Swedish's commitment to delivering world-class healthcare, Elekta Synergy® is a natural fit."
Nearly one in seven women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime, while one in six men will develop prostate cancer. For breast, prostate and other cancers, radiation therapy combined with surgery and/or chemotherapy significantly reduces the chance of cancer recurrence and improves long-term survival rates. Radiation has the potential to eradicate many malignancies, if a large enough dose can be delivered during treatment.
"Tumors will change their position and their size during the course of radiotherapy treatment, which typically consists of multiple treatments over several weeks," said Swedish Cancer Institute radiation oncologist Vivek Mehta, M.D. "Even during a single treatment session, a patient's breathing or heartbeat may affect tumor position."
At the start of radiotherapy, technicians take a computed tomography (CT) scan of a tumor and enter that data into a treatment-planning system. IGRT software produces a three-dimensional, digitized image of the patient's tumor, sharply identifying the slightest contour. Once that image is captured, it can be reconstituted for every treatment session. If significant tumor movement has occurred, physicians can then adjust the patient's position or, if required, re-do the treatment plan.
For patients, use of IGRT will mean:
- Higher, more effective doses of radiation can be delivered safely
- Tumors that were previously untreatable, because of their proximity to organs or the spinal cord, can now receive treatment
- In some cases, overall treatment time can be shortened
- Radiation side effects can be reduced, improving quality of life
The first two linear accelerators with IGRT will be installed by early summer at the Swedish Cancer Institute's flagship facility on First Hill and at the Swedish Cancer Institute at Highline Community Hospital in Burien - one of several local hospital partners of the Cancer Institute. The downtown Seattle unit will be part of the new Center for Advanced Targeted Radiation Therapies set to open this August at Swedish's First Hill Campus. Altogether, Swedish will invest more than $3 million in this technology-research program.
"Swedish is proud to introduce IGRT to the Northwest so early on in its lifecycle," said Albert B. Einstein Jr., M.D., executive director of the Swedish Cancer Institute. "By working with our network of local hospital partners, we can make this sophisticated technology available throughout the region."
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The Cancer Institute's Center for Advanced Targeted Radiation Therapies is a research program evaluating the application of new radiotherapy technologies to enhance the targeting of tumors. As part of this program, Swedish is also working with Seattle's Calypso® Medical Technologies in developing an innovative approach to guided radiation therapy, GPS for the Body™.
Calypso Medical's technology was designed to pinpoint a tumor's location and monitor movement continuously during radiation treatment, without exposing patients to added X-rays. AC electromagnetic sensors, called Beacon® transponders, are about the size of a grain of rice and were designed for permanent implantation in the body. When coupled with the GPS for the Body system, the Beacon transponder's signals are detected by the system and they compute the tumor's position and track its motion during treatment.
This investigational technology is expected to provide additional benefit when combined with IGRT. Calypso Medical plans to complete its clinical study for use of the technology in prostate cancer this year, prior to FDA review of GPS for the Body.
"Our goal is the rapid adoption of new, proven therapies," Dr. Einstein said. "That involves partnering with some of the world's leading medical-device, medical-technology and biotechnology firms to bring new treatments here."
About the Swedish Cancer Institute
Swedish Medical Center opened the first dedicated cancer-care center west of the Mississippi in 1932. Today, the Swedish Cancer Institute is the largest, most comprehensive cancer-treatment program in Washington state, caring for more people with cancer than any other facility statewide. The Cancer Institute also has a long history as the region's largest radiation-therapy provider as well as an innovator in adopting the latest cancer technologies. A true multidisciplinary program, the Swedish Cancer Institute offers a wide range of advanced cancer-treatment options in chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery - backed by extensive diagnostic capabilities, patient education, support-group services and complementary therapies. Swedish is the largest, most comprehensive, nonprofit health provider in the Pacific Northwest. It is comprised of three hospital campuses (First Hill, Providence and Ballard), Swedish Home Care Services and Swedish Physicians - a network of 11 primary-care clinics. On March 1, 2005, Swedish will open a new freestanding emergency room and specialty center in Issaquah. In addition to general medical and surgical care, Swedish is known as a regional referral center, providing specialized treatment in areas such as cardiac care, oncology, orthopedics, high-risk obstetrics, neurological care, sleep medicine, pediatrics, organ transplantation and clinical research. For more information, visit www.swedish.org
Elekta is a world-leading supplier of advanced and innovative radiation-oncology and neurosurgery solutions and services for precise treatment of cancer and brain disorders. Elekta's solutions are clinically effective, cost efficient and gentle to the patient. For more information about Elekta, visit www.elekta.com