Florida Clinicians Now Delivering Non-Invasive Image-Guided Treatments Using Novalis Tx Radiosurgery


Chemotherapy wasn't working for Christina Crum, whose breast cancer had metastasized to multiple sites within her body. Therefore, she was pleased to hear that doctors at the Baptist Cancer Institute in Jacksonville, Florida, felt optimistic about the chances of treating her successfully using a newly-installed Novalis Tx™ radiosurgery platform from Varian Medical Systems and BrainLAB.

Sonja Schoeppel, MD, Crum's radiation oncologist, delivered a one week course of stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) to treat a metastatic growth in her right lung, and later, treated another tumor on one of her ribs.

"Christina's treatments had to be especially precise," said Dr. Schoeppel. "Her tissues and organs were extremely delicate due to earlier rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. Novalis Tx radiosurgery technology enables us to shape the beam with precision so we can avoid the surrounding anatomy. This has been great for Christina. Other treatment options just weren't working for her."

Crum, 44, said that she maintained an active lifestyle during her treatments: "I continued teaching my yoga and water aerobics classes all over Jacksonville–sometimes even before and after treatment. Unlike traditional surgery, in my case radiosurgery didn't lay me up at all. It was a great relief to know that another form of therapy was available that wouldn't keep me from going on with my everyday life," she said.

The Novalis Tx radiosurgery platform incorporates sophisticated beam shaping technology, precision targeting computers, and robotics that sculpt the treatment beam so that it envelops the tumor while avoiding the surrounding tissues and organs as much as possible. The Novalis Tx radiosurgery platform also offers a broad range of image-guidance tools to further enhance treatment precision. Clinicians at the Baptist Cancer Institute are able to generate 3-D scans of the tumor and surrounding tissues prior to every treatment, to improve the accuracy of tumor targeting.

"The Novalis Tx radiosurgery platform is enabling us to offer sophisticated and precise radiosurgery services to more patients daily than any other system available," said Douglas Johnson, MD, a radiation oncologist at the Baptist Cancer Institute. "Treatments are fast and accurate, and, in terms of the cancers we can treat, it has really expanded the envelope–we can treat not only new cancers, but often those that have recurred in previously irradiated areas. Until now, there were not many options for these folks."

For example, Dr. Johnson added, a week of Novalis Tx radiosurgery can often provide such fast palliative relief for some cancer patients that medical oncologists are referring their patients for this type of treatment between rounds of chemotherapy. "In many of these cases, we've seen clinical improvements within a week. For some patients, pain relief has come within 24 hours," he said.

Clinicians at the Baptist Cancer Institute have been using the Novalis Tx platform to treat about 25 new stereotactic radiosurgery and radiotherapy patients each month. Indeed, 88% of the treatments delivered thus far have been stereotactic guided treatments delivered in one to five treatment sessions. The remaining 12% of delivered treatments have been high precision conformal intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) for a variety of special situations.

"Novalis Tx radiosurgery treatments take from 15 minutes for a single brain lesion to 45 minutes for the simultaneous treatment of multiple brain metastases," said Dr. Johnson. "Lung treatments are taking 25-30 minutes with gating; less time without. These times are very fast for this type of treatment. Depending on the particular mix of patients–recognizing that some treatments take longer than others–I estimate that Novalis Tx can be used to treat up to 15-20 patients per day."

Howard Chandler, MD, a neurosurgical oncologist at Baptist Cancer Institute, also uses the platform, in his case to treat brain, spine, and other disorders of the central nervous system. "From a neurosurgeon's perspective, I've come to rely on the Novalis Tx radiosurgery platform to complement or supplement brain surgery, depending on the patient. Its versatility and precision permit me to offer an optimal course of treatment for each patient. This is some of the most advanced cancer-fighting technology available."

About Baptist Health

Baptist Health of Jacksonville, Florida, is a faith-based, mission-driven system comprised of Baptist Medical Center Downtown and Baptist Heart Hospital; Baptist Medical Center Beaches; Baptist Medical Center Nassau; Baptist Medical Center South; and Wolfson Children's Hospital – Jacksonville's only children's hospital. All Baptist Health hospitals, along with Baptist Home Health Care, have achieved Magnet™ status, an international quality designation that recognizes excellence in patient care. Baptist Health also includes cardiology and cardiovascular surgery services; a comprehensive cancer center; orthopaedic institute; women's resource center; neurosciences, including neurosurgery and two Joint Commission-certified stroke centers; a full range of psychology and psychiatry services; outpatient facilities; urgent care services and a network of primary care physicians' offices throughout Northeast Florida. Baptist Health is the official healthcare provider for the Jacksonville Jaguars. For more information, visit www.e-baptisthealth.com. For information on Wolfson Children's Hospital, visit www.wolfsonchildrens.org.

About Varian Medical Systems

Varian Medical Systems, Inc., of Palo Alto, California, is the world's leading manufacturer of medical devices and software for treating cancer and other medical conditions with radiotherapy, radiosurgery, proton therapy, and brachytherapy. The company supplies informatics software for managing comprehensive cancer clinics, radiotherapy centers and medical oncology practices. Varian is a premier supplier of tubes and digital detectors for X-ray imaging in medical, scientific, and industrial applications and also supplies X-ray imaging products for cargo screening and industrial inspection. Varian Medical Systems employs approximately 5,100 people who are located at manufacturing sites in North America, China, and Europe and in its 79 offices and facilities around the world. For more information, visit http://www.varian.com/.