New radiation treatment
at Kuakini targets tumors
while sparing tissue

Star-Bulletin staff

Kuakini Medical Center has a new radiation treatment for cancer that targets only the tumor and does not expose healthy surrounding tissue, the hospital announced.

The hospital said it is the first in Honolulu to use Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy.

"This treatment option will have a profound effect on the way radiation therapy is given in the future," said Scott Lopes, manager of radiation therapy.

Treatment planner Ron FitzGerald said the procedure involves "small, rapidly treated beam segments delivering radiation doses directly to the target while sparing normal, surrounding health tissue."

This results in fewer side effects, compared with conventional radiation therapy, he said. It also may allow higher doses to be used in certain cases because noncancerous areas are avoided.

Kuakini's Varian linear accelerator is equipped with a special device, a multileaf collimator, that shapes the small radiation beams and delivers the radiation rapidly according to a treatment plan.

The beams can be rotated to direct them to the most favorable angles to treat the tumor while sparing normal tissue.

Dr. Mark Kanemori, radiation oncologist, said applications and utilization of the procedure are "ongoing areas of development. Academic centers have already published evidence of improved outcomes in selected sites in the body, and we are currently using this information to implement IMRT at Kuakini."

The doctors said the technology may be used to treat tumors with a high degree of accuracy that were previously considered difficult or impossible to treat because of surrounding vital organs.

In the case of certain head and neck tumors, for instance, IMRT allows radiation to be focused in a way that minimizes exposure to the spinal cord, optic nerve, salivary glands and other organs, they said.

Radiation exposure to the bladder and rectum can be reduced in the case of prostate cancer, they said, and higher doses may be used to improve tumor control, according to clinical studies at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

E-mail to City Desk


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