After Imperial Valley Cancer Center invested about $2.5 million in new technology last December, cancer patients no longer have to drive to San Diego or Palm Springs to get cutting-edge radiation treatment.
Patients treated with the new machine called Varian Clinic IX with Rapid Arch benefit greatly since the machine was “turned on” in March, said Imperial Valley Cancer Center manager Daniel Ortiz. “It’s a huge change” from the previous machine, Ortiz said. Radiation side effects such as fatigue or skin irritation are minimized, he said, and so is treatment time.
Before, a patient would receive radiation treatment for around 45 minutes, Ortiz said, “which is pretty uncomfortable” for a patient and time-consuming for staff, he said.
Now patients can rest on the bed, “relax” for five to 10 minutes while staff “turns on the machine and let it go,” Ortiz said. “It’s like having a chest X-ray test,” he said.
The machine takes into effect 3D image of organs, body measurements and the area of treatment, Ortiz said, and is capable of “rotating 360 degrees” around the patient delivering radiation to the specific area.
Because the machine can mold the size of the radiation beam, non-cancerous tissue is “spared,” he said.
Breast, prostate and lung cancer patients have showed the best results as far as comfort and reduction of side effects, he said. The machine also seems to increase the ability to “protect” salivary glands of head and neck cancer patients.
In upcoming months the center is looking to purchase software to make the machine treat brain cancers, he said.
“Just seeing how far we’ve gone is pretty amazing,” said Ortiz, who added it is a “blessing” to have this technology in “our backyard.”
Staff Writer Alejandro Davila can be reached at 760-337-3445 or email@example.com