New 'robotic couch' aids in speedy, precise cancer treatment
Comfort, precision and speed – these are features we all wish for in cancer treatments, and residents of the North Valley who are fighting cancer do not have to travel far to find them. The Enloe Regional Cancer Center now offers a new high-tech system for cancer treatment, the only one of its kind in California north of the Bay Area.
The new PerfectPitch 6 Degrees of Freedom “robotic couch” is part of the recently added TrueBeam linear accelerator, which provides advanced radiotherapy and radiosurgery procedures for many types of cancerous tumors.
“With the new couch, we can quickly position patients with extreme accuracy,” says Dr. Erik Stickney, Medical Director of Radiation Oncology at the Enloe Regional Cancer Center.
While the patient is resting on the PerfectPitch couch, the radiation therapist will overlay a new CT scan image with a CT scan image that was taken previously. Using this information, the TrueBeam computer directs the therapist to position the patient in the precise location electronically, rather than a slower manual process. Because the robotic couch can move and rotate in a variety of directions, the linear accelerator has more precise beam targeting to the tumor. This feature not only saves time and improves comfort in treatment, but it also enables optimal targeting of cancerous masses, which improves the accuracy of treatment and limits radiation exposure to healthy tissue.
The additional targeting afforded by the PerfectPitch couch is particularly helpful in fighting brain cancers. Accuracy is key to this type of treatment, known as stereotactic radiosurgery. The linear accelerator’s advanced imaging and positioning system provides adjustments of less than a millimeter so only targeted areas receive radiation.
“With the TrueBeam’s ability to image the patient daily before treatment, and the couch’s ability to three-dimensionally move the patient into the correct position, we are providing the most accurate treatment available. This accuracy reduces the dose to normal tissues and increases the dose to the tumor. This means less side effects and a better chance for cancer cure,” says Dr. Stickney.
Care closer to home
When you are on the cancer journey, convenience goes a long way.
“Having cancer is hard enough. Our patients are balancing their work and home life – and so when you need to travel two to three hours a day each day for weeks, that is a lot of time to be driving, especially when you are not feeling well, ” adds Ehren Hawkins, manager of radiation oncology.
New Cancer Discussion Group supports patients, survivors and caregivers at any stage of the cancer Journey
A new monthly program, the Cancer Discussion Group, launched in August for cancer patients, survivors and their caregivers. Each meeting will include a guest speaker and discussion topics related to managing the challenges associated with cancer and improving overall wellness. The group will meet on the third Thursday of the month from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the Enloe Conference Center, 1528 Esplanade, in Chico. Each meeting will offer a focused topic and guest speaker, and an opportunity to break off into smaller, more intimate discussion groups. The new group was formed based on research from the City of Hope as well as local feedback and trends. For more information, call 530-332-3856.