Photo Caption: St. Luke’s has been recognized as a leader in delivering technically advanced, high quality and safe radiation therapies. Radiation oncology team members (l-r) include physicist Tianyou Xue, Dr. Nimisha Deb and Robyn Plesniarski.
Considered a leading developer of radiation oncology treatments and software, Varian Medical Systems recently selected St. Luke’s Cancer Center to be a reference site, allowing health care professionals from around the country to see Varian’s radiation oncology treatments in a clinical setting and afford the opportunity to learn of its capabilities and benefits to patients.
St. Luke’s has a long-standing relationship with Varian and has adopted and successfully utilized many cancer-fighting technologies, oftentimes before anyone else in the region and even the state, according to Nimisha Deb, MD, Chief of Radiation Oncology, St. Luke’s University Health Network. “For St. Luke’s patients, this has meant immediate access to safe, cutting-edge cancer-fighting tools right here in the Greater Lehigh Valley, along with a knowledgeable, top-ranked cancer team with fellowship trained radiation oncologists and physicists skilled in their use.”
The California-based company has been producing tools that harness the power of X-ray energy to benefit patients since the 1950s. In recent decades, it has pioneered developments in the fields of radiotherapy, radiosurgery, X-ray tube technology, digital image detectors, and more. The company has long-standing relationships with many of the world’s leading clinicians and manufacturers of industrial and medical imaging systems.
“We are proud to have this reference site designation; it means we are recognized as a leader in delivering technically advanced, high quality and safe radiation therapies,” says Dr. Deb. “The Varian distinction puts St. Luke’s Cancer Center on par with Stanford, a radiation oncology powerhouse, for quality, the types of technology we offer and also how we’re using these treatments to help our cancer patients.”
Robyn Plesniarski, MS, HSA, R.T., Manager of Radiation Oncology and Community Outreach, St. Luke’s University Health Network, agrees. “Being a Varian Medical Systems reference site is a badge of honor. The designation puts St. Luke’s on a select, prestigious list.”
The Varian – St. Luke’s relationship dates back to 1998. “While we have offered Varian cancer-fighting tools for nearly 20 years, the designation was not a given, but was earned,” says Plesniarski. “It shows that St. Luke’s understands how to use its suite of Varian technologies, and also has the top-level staff to deliver effective patient care. Now, we are able to serve as a resource for colleagues from around the country who are considering an investment in Varian technology, interacting at a clinical level and sharing our knowledge.”
"Our reference sites are very important to us,” says Victoria Irvin, Manager of Marketing Programs at Varian Medical Systems’ corporate headquarters. “The Tours of Excellence reference site program allows potential customers to see Varian products and technology in clinical use, a key step when evaluating new purchases."
Varian Technologies at St. Luke’s Cancer Center
- St. Luke’s was the first treatment center in Pennsylvania to install and utilize Varian’s On-Board Imager® device, a fully robotic Dynamic Targeting IGRT system for tracking tumor locations and positioning patients, to ensure precise treatments while sparing healthy tissue.
- St. Luke’s was the first hospital in the region to offer the TrueBeam STX™ linear accelerator, an advanced radiation therapy system used to deliver highly conformal treatments accurately and safely. Treatments using TrueBeam have the potential to greatly enhance patient comfort, because the treatment time is significantly shorter than was possible with earlier industry-leading technologies. This means there is less time for tumor motion during treatment, making it possible to deliver more powerful cancer-fighting radiation to aggressive tumors with even greater precision.
- The TrueBeam system allows for stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), considered the most precise method of giving a high dose of radiation to an area inside the body. SRS is primarily used for malignant and benign brain and spine tumors. It also offers the ability to safely retreat tumors in critical areas previously not possible.
- St. Luke’s also became first in the region to offer patients frameless SRS, which is stereotactic radiosurgery performed without the use of traditional frame-based immobilization devices. This provides a more comfortable and faster treatment and recovery experience.
- The frameless system utilizes another regional first, the Optical Surface Monitoring System (OSMS). This technology is critical for delivery of frameless SRS as it can stop the beam when the tumor is not on target. OSMS tracks a patient’s facial features during treatment, which allows SRS to be performed without the frame. OSMS is also being used for left-sided breast cancer treatments for cardiac sparing.
- The TrueBeam system also allows for Stereotactic Radiotherapy (SRT). SRT is known as fractionated radiosurgery, because a fraction of the total radiation dose is delivered over the course of several treatments. In some cases of brain, spine and lung tumors, two to five fractionated stereotactic treatments are utilized.
Highest Level of Quality and Patient Safety in Radiation Oncology
St. Luke’s achieved the highest level of quality and patient safety in Radiation Oncology, earning a three-year accreditation by the American College of Radiology (ACR). To achieve ACR accreditation, a facility’s personnel qualifications, equipment requirements, quality assurance and quality control procedures go through a rigorous review process to meet specific qualifications.