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Montefiore in the News

October 21, 2009
Montefiore is First in the Bronx to Offer Innovative Radiation Therapy

The Bronx, NY (October 21, 2009) -- At the nation's leading cancer centers, state-of-the-art technology is used to aim precise doses of radiation directly at tumors in order to spare healthy surrounding tissue and improve patients' quality of life. A breakthrough in radiation therapy that provides treatment up to eight times faster than any other system is now available for cancer patients at The Center for Radiation Therapy, Montefiore-Einstein Center for Cancer Care.

That was welcome news for Fred Ferber of New City, NY, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in June. The 59-year-old financial executive weighed several treatment options before choosing Rapid Arc™ therapy at Montefiore. "I'm almost done with my treatments and I feel fine. I can get up off the treatment table and play golf," he said. "It's been as good an experience as it could be." When his Rapid Arc™ treatments are done, Mr. Ferber will undergo the second phase of his treatment, radioactive seed implantation, at Montefiore.

Rapid Arc™ is a new image-guided approach to radiation therapy that emits thousands of precisely focused beams that follow the exact contours of a cancerous tumor. The new technology delivers radiation in a single rotation around the patient, modulating the beams at every angle. The result is a precisely sculpted, three-dimensional radiation dose that covers the entire tumor while sparing healthy tissue.

Approved for treatment of prostate, head and neck, lung, spine and other cancers, Rapid Arc™ represents a major turning point in cancer care. "In the last four to six years, there's been incredible progress in the war against cancer," said Shalom Kalnicki, MD, Chairman, Radiation Oncology. "Nothing we do today for curative purposes is even vaguely similar to what we did 15 years ago. New therapies such as Rapid Arc have created an unmatched level of precision in radiation, allowing us to spare healthy tissue like never before."

For example, a single radiation treatment for prostate cancer used to take from 20 to 30 minutes. Treatment time has now been cut in less than half, and there are other potential benefits. "Now people with head and neck cancers can swallow and talk after treatment, women with breast cancer aren't undergoing mutilating mastectomies, lung cancer patients can breathe normally, and men with prostate cancer have normal sexual potency," Dr. Kalnicki added. "The potential for an enhanced quality of life is immediate with these technologies, and it is most rewarding."

Every new case referred to Montefiore's Radiation Oncology Department is reviewed by a multidisciplinary team that determines the best course of treatment based on a patient's specific condition. For nearly 20 percent of referred patients, the team does not prescribe radiation and recommends an alternative course of treatment.

For patients undergoing radiation therapy, additional support comes in many forms: care navigators to guide them through treatment plans, an oncology nutritionist who provides one-on-one counseling, holistic therapies such as yoga and Reiki, crocheting classes and varied support groups. 

In addition to the new Rapid ArcTM radiation therapy option, cancer specialists at Montefiore can choose from a range of tools that vary how radiation is delivered to the body including:

  • The Calypso GPS 4D Localization System for treatment of prostate cancer localizes radiation beams on tumors and allows for "gating" in which targeted beams stay on the tumor as the patient breathes and moves.
  • Image-guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) used in treatment of cancers of the head and neck, lung and abdomen, utilizes daily, pre-treatment ultrasound views that allow physicians to scale down the radiation dose as the tumor shrinks.
  • Frameless stereotactic radiosurgery uses focused radiation beams to destroy cancer cells in a single or very few treatment sessions.
  • Brachytherapy - Implantation of radioactive seeds via catheter near the tumor, followed by a high dose of radiation.

For more information, contact the Center for Radiation Therapy, Montefiore-Einstein Center for Cancer Care, at 718-405-8550.