Worthington invests $3M in tech for rural cancer care

Linear accelerator delivers latest in radiation therapy close to home

Linear accelerator marchine aims a green beam of light onto a table in a treatment room at Sanford Health.

Sanford Worthington is installing a new $3.4 million TrueBeam linear accelerator this month that will provide cancer patients with state-of-the-art treatment much closer to home.

The linear accelerator is the latest radiation technology, also available on the Sanford hospital campus in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Now cancer patients in the Worthington, Minnesota, area who need radiation treatments can get them without driving a long way.

“What this means for patients is accuracy, speed and comfort,” said Sanford Health’s Amber Frisch, supervisor of radiation therapy in Worthington. “What it means for the radiation oncology professionals is the ability to treat many different types of complex cancer cases close to home.”

Linear accelerator in cancer treatment

So what is a linear accelerator? Well, it is a device programmed to deliver high-energy X-rays that conform to the specific size, shape and location of a tumor. It will give providers the ability to target and destroy cancerous cells in a precise area of the body, with minimal exposure to surrounding healthy tissue.

It can treat tumors in places that can be hard to reach, or are near critical organs like the heart and lungs. In addition, the accuracy of treatment permits higher radiation doses while reducing the risk of exposure to healthy tissue.

By having the capacity to deliver higher dosages, patients can heal in fewer sessions. A tumor that might need 20-to-40 sessions of conventional radiation therapy can be reduced to less than five, for instance. These shorter sessions also lower the risk of side effects in patients.

“It integrates advanced imaging and motion management technologies that makes it possible to deliver treatments more quickly while monitoring and compensating for tumor motion,” Frisch said. “Before and at any point during a treatment, the new linear accelerator can generate the three-dimensional images used to fine-tune tumor targeting, something that wasn’t possible with earlier technologies.”

Better tumor targeting technology

Cancer patients needing this level of treatment can now get it in Worthington. The TrueBeam system will improve on cancer treatment in these areas:

  • Precision. The accuracy of the TrueBeam system is measured in increments of less than a millimeter.
  • Speed. Some treatments that once took 10 to 30 minutes can now be completed in half the amount of time. Faster treatment delivery not only is more comfortable for patients, requiring less time on the treatment table, it also reduces the chance of tumor motion during treatment, which helps protect nearby healthy tissue and critical organs.
  • Imaging. The new imaging technology quickly produces the 3D images used to fine-tune tumor targeting.
  • Motion tracking. For lung and other tumors subject to respiratory motion, the TrueBeam offers gating, which makes it possible to monitor the patient’s breathing and compensate for movement of the tumor while radiation is being delivered.

“With the new linear accelerator, we are opening the door to new possibilities for treatment options in Worthington and helping patients receive quality cancer care close to home,” Frisch said. “Sanford is invested in providing quality cancer care and health care in this community and our surrounding communities.”

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Posted In Cancer, Cancer Treatments, Company News, Fargo, Imaging, Rural Health, Sioux Falls, Specialty Care, Worthington