A Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy device, used to deliver precise doses of radiation to tumours, restricting the damage to healthy tissue, was inaugurated on Tuesday at Billroth Hospitals.

RapidArc, the device, has a rotating arm which goes around the patient reclining on a table, and delivers the dose with as much precision as possible. It also reduces the treatment time drastically, with the patient spending as little as two minutes on the table.

“It is eight times faster than normal treatment, and can verify patient and tumour position at the time of treatment. The patient can breathe normally during treatment, and movement is not restricted as it takes only two minutes compared to the 20-25 minutes of conventional radiotherapy,” L.Padmanabhan, consultant, clinical and radiation oncology, Billroth Hospitals, said.

A lower dose is used, since there is targeted delivery. Speed also lends to accuracy, he added.

All this is possible since the machine enables better planning to fix, and deliver the dose accurately. Additionally, the imaging system of the device helps to focus on the tumour even if the patient shifts during treatment.

It can cost up to Rs. 80,000 more (for a full course) compared to conventional treatment methodologies, Rajesh Jeganathan, Managing Director, Billroth Hospitals, explained. The advantages, however, are that patients are able to tolerate the treatment better, and have a better quality of life. The risk of secondary cancers also comes down, he adds.

The short turnaround time for every treatment will enable over 16 patients to be treated in a day.

The equipment was inaugurated by Andrew Simkin, Consul General, US Consulate, Chennai, at a meeting in which Nupur Mitra, Executive Director, Indian Overseas Bank participated.

Eight times faster than normal treatment, says consultant