Bassett gets cutting-edge cancer treatment system

Tinger

Bassett Healthcare Network’s Cancer Institute has acquired a “game changing” state-of-the-art cancer treatment machine, according to a media release.

The TrueBeam radiotherapy machine from Varian Medical Systems will make cancer treatments quicker and more accurate, according to Bassett Cancer Institute Chief and Medical Director Alfred Tinger.

“Some cancers can be hard to reach and precisely target,” Tinger said in the media release. “The TrueBeam changes that. It is an advanced radiotherapy system with functionality that allows us to treat cancer anywhere in the body as precisely as possible. It offers greater accuracy, speed and comfort for patients. This really is a game changer in terms of cancer treatment in this region.”

In a follow-up phone interview with The Daily Star on Wednesday, July 29, Tinger said the machine is not for diagnosing cancers, but “the quality is almost diagnostic quality.”

Being able to do more accurate treatments will greatly decrease the amount of time it takes to get cancer treatments, he said, which will significantly improve the comfort level of patients, he said.

“The TrueBeam performs accuracy checks every 10 milliseconds during the course of a treatment and a patient’s time on the table is reduced by 75 percent,” according to the media release. “For example, rather than a typical treatment time of 25 minutes for a prostate cancer patient, patients can be done in 5 to 6 minutes, a huge difference for men who are best treated with a full bladder.”

“Comfort is so crucial in medical care, especially for our cancer patients,” Tinger said in the media release. “This is an investment in them so they can have a better experience, confidence in their treatment and the best opportunity possible for a cure.”

Wednesday, Tinger said the new equipment will also cut down on the need for local patients to have to leave the region for treatment. He said previously patients often had to travel to Rochester, Boston or New York City for treatments, but now many more local cancer patients will be able to receive their treatments locally.

“It is just much more precise than anything anybody else has within at least a 50-mile radius around us,” Tinger said.

“It is very exciting to be able to use the latest equipment to treat cancer,” he continued. “We are very lucky to be able to use it and it is great for our patients to be able to have access to it. The entire team is proud to have it, not just the cancer specialists in the cancer institute.”

Tinger said the preparations to create an area for the radiotherapy machine took about 18 months, including renovating a space for the treatments and about five months to install the technology. He said he wasn’t sure of the cost of the technology, but said he believed Bassett got a good deal purchasing the machine from Varian.

A 2017 article from Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry Online quoted a range of $2 million to $4 million for the TrueBeam, about half of the cost cited from a 2014 article by the Savannah Morning News when Memorial University Medical Center in Georgia bought a similar machine in 2012. That article claimed there was a several-year backlog for orders.

Tinger said he was unsure of how long it took Bassett to get its TrueBeam, but he said the technology has made major advances since Varian released its first TrueBeam system.

Greg Klein, staff writer, can be reached at gklein@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7218.

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