New radiotherapy designed to fight cancer is being used by the Catalan Institute of Oncology

A new technique has been put into place that enables more precise irradiations, affecting surrounding organs less and thus minimising secondary effects. The Catalan monographic hospital is the 2nd in Spain to use this technique.

Bertran Cazorla / CNA

July 21, 2010 12:22 AM

L’Hospitalet de Llobregat (CNA).- The ability to taste food after having larynx cancer, avoiding urination problems or being able to have sexual relations after prostate cancer are some of the positive effects of this new technique developed by the Catalan Institute of Oncology. The monographic cancer institution in Catalonia has unveiled a new machine that applies a new technique that significantly reduces the secondary effects of radiotherapy. The technique, which consists of radiotherapy with volumetric modulated intensity, is much more precise than previous irradiation therapies. The radiation is more focused, affecting surrounding parts less and therefore minimising secondary effects.

The public Catalan Health System has invested 4 million euros to set up new equipment in the Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO), located in L’Hospitalet del Llobregat, next to Barcelona. This new machinery will improve living conditions of cancer patients, who will see the secondary effects after radiotherapy sessions reduced. The new equipment will enable a new technique that was already in place in one private hospital in Madrid, making the institute the 2nd in Spain to use it.
This new technique will be used for tumours that are located next to other organs that need to be as excluded as possible from radiation such as in cases of cancer of the prostate, larynx, brain, ocular globe, rectum and urinary bladder.
The machine has been named ‘RapidArc’. It can irradiate very concrete zones of the human body, focusing much more on the tumour itself and affecting less the surrounding organs. It works through modulated intensity, which already existed, though it combines it with an arch that can be moved around the affected zone.
In addition, the machine delivers radiation in a shorter time, about 90 seconds. This way, this new equipment enables the ICO to treat more patients a day.
“This new technique facilitates giving treatment with greater precision and with a minimal dose. And what is more important: we shorten the treatment”, explained the Head of the Oncology Radiotherapy Service of the ICO, Ferran Guedea. With the new equipment, Guedea has confirmed, the hospital will be able “to give the maximum living quality with the greatest possibilities for a cure”.
Curing cancer and keeping quality of life
In this sense, Guedea has explained that the new trend in oncology is to cure cancer while keeping the patient’s living conditions after the recovery. This equipment started being used 2 and a half months ago with a 70-year old patient with prostate cancer, who has now experienced a positive recovery. He did experience some diarrheic episodes as side effects during the treatment but not afterwards.
The ICO, a frontrunner in Spain regarding radiotherapy machinery
New equipment is scheduled to join the hospital, which already is the hospital with the most radiotherapy machinery of Spain. In 2007, it acquired equipment to use the modulated intensity radiotherapy technique. That year, the image guided radiotherapy was set up as well.
A year ago, extracranial stereotactic radiotherapy started treating lung tumours that could not be removed by surgery. This technique was not performed in any other public hospital in Spain at the time.