Advances in cancer treatment continue at an exciting pace and ASTER MIMS, Calicut is leading the way with several new initiatives to enhance the current treatment facilities being extended to those who are afflicted by cancer. One of the many initiatives is the ground-breaking radiotherapy technology installed at Aster MIMS known as TrueBeam STx which allows radiation oncologists to easily treat cancers that were previously difficult to treat.
Vijish G from the Healthovation team would like to introduce you to the superhuman women who are the real forces behind the implementation of TrueBeam STx at Aster MIMS in Calicut. Let’s meet Ms. Aswathy Raj, Chief Medical Physicist cum Radiological Safety Officer (RSO) and her partner in success, Ms. Hridya Prasanth, Medical Physicist – members of the Oncology team at Aster MIMS, Calicut.
I have come to understand that TrueBeam STx is among the most innovative brainwaves in cancer care and it was launched at Aster MIMS in January this year. So, what exactly is TrueBeam STx in simple terms?
The TrueBeam STx is an advanced linear accelerator from Varian Medical System that opens up treatment options for various cancers and non-cancerous tumours. It also offers a flattening filter free delivery system that can deliver a very high dose to tumours in single or five fractions for specialized treatment called Stereotactic Radio Surgery and Stereotactic Body Radiation therapy.
As Medical Physicists, what was the motivation factor for both of you to introduce such a versatile, intelligent system at Aster MIMS?
As Medical Physicists, we always look for the best technology. The radiotherapy machine that was previously installed at Aster MIMS had a few limitations both in treatment planning as well as treatment delivery. Earlier, there have been instances when we had to shift our patients to other centres that were better equipped with advanced technology. At Aster MIMS, we value patient comfort above all else. So, it was the cherished dream of our Radiation Oncology team to provide our patients in the Malabar region with the most advanced and modern treatment without causing any undue delay or inconvenience. This, we would say was our motivation factor to introduce the TrueBeam STx. We are, indeed, proud that the management at Aster MIMS has been especially keen on ensuring that we go for the best in technology to provide our customers with the best treatment available.
What are the revolutionary changes in cancer treatment that the TrueBeam facility promises?
The TrueBeam offers patients exactly what they need. First and foremost, we provide accurate and precise treatment even to moving targets. Precision in TrueBeam is in the submillimeter accuracy which is achieved by the system’s sophisticated architecture. Moreover, the accelerator beam is adjusted in line with the patient’s organ movement. We also deliver the treatment within two minutes using its high dose rate delivery systems.
So, would you say that the TrueBeam STx is the ultimate answer to pain-free and surgery-free cancer treatment?
Well, depending on the stage and the site of the tumour, to an extent we can say that the TrueBeam STx is the ultimate answer to pain-free and surgery-free cancer treatment.
Could you explain in layman terms how the TrueBeam can actually, reduce the duration of treatment and also bring down the expense?
A TrueBeam system can deliver treatment 50 percent faster with a dose delivery rate of up to 2400 MU per minute. This makes it possible to offer greater patient comfort by shortening the treatment. The precision is also greatly improved by leaving less time for tumour motion during dose delivery which will reduce both the treatment time as well as the total cost of treatment.
So comparatively how is TrueBeam able to target and kill tumours with so much precision? What is the technology behind it?
The TrueBeam STx has an accessory called as the Multileaf Collimator of 2.5mm which helps to shape the beam according to the tumour. It can also change its shape during treatment to target the tumour and minimize the dose to the surrounding healthy tissues. TrueBeam can also synchronize the beam delivery according to the motion of the tumour. In simple terms, if there is a tumour inside the lung and if the lung itself is moving while breathing normally, we will be able to track the tumour and deliver the dose when the tumour comes within the field, thereby saving healthy tissues. There is also a six-degree couch that provides six degrees of freedom for patient positioning in submillimeter accuracy. TrueBeam’s advanced imaging modality comprises of cone beam CT and real-time imaging tools that allow clinicians to track the tumour with accuracy measured in submillimeters.
Are there any side effects for treatment with the TrueBeam?
Every treatment comes with its fair share of side effects. Of course, with the TrueBeam STx, we can greatly reduce the temporary side effects and complications.
Indeed, this is a great milestone towards innovation in medical technology at Aster MIMS and a commendable achievement for both of you. What is your next big plan for innovation?
As Medical Physicists, the commissioning of high-end radiotherapy equipment itself is a golden feather in our crown. Apart from that both of us are doing our research work in Medical Physics which should benefit our patients a great deal. We have completed several short-term projects in Medical Physics and now, with the arrival of TrueBeam we have immense scope for our research work. We are also well-equipped to train and mentor innumerable students as well as newcomers to excel in this field.