Unparallelled accuracy decreases duration of radiation oncology treatments

The MUHC announces acquisition of Novalis Tx™ linear accelerator—a first in Canada
Montreal, June 22, 2010 - Today, the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) is inaugurating the acquisition of a technology found nowhere else in Canada: the Novalis Tx linear accelerator developed by Varian Medical Systems and BrainLAB. This technology will give our professionals a highly precise tool to treat patients with cancer or other diseases that until now have been difficult to treat with radiation therapy, such as neurological disorders. This new technological platform will decrease the average length of treatment from four or five weeks to just days.

"The MUHC has built its international reputation on excellence, with local, national and world firsts," noted the Honourable Arthur T. Porter, MUHC Director General and CEO. "We’re proud to be leading the way again with the acquisition of the Novalis Tx; it’s tantamount with our vision for the new Cancer Centre at the Glen Campus and with our commitment to providing our patients with the best care for life."

Novalis Tx incorporates advanced imaging, treatment planning and treatment delivery technologies, enabling doctors to carry out highly precise, image-guided radiosurgery procedures quickly. It is a truly multi-faceted tool for monitoring the progression of a tumour from session to session in order to adapt treatment and administer high doses of radiation to very localized areas, which reduces the impact on surrounding tissue and organs.

"When you are delivering these treatments in areas close to critical structures like the liver, spinal cord or optic nerve, you need the level of precision that we can get with Novalis Tx," said Dr. Carolyn Freeman, Radiation Oncologist-in-Chief at the MUHC. "This technology therefore allows us to attack early-stage lung cancer and liver cancer, which was previously impossible. It offers us unparalleled image guidance tools and treatment beam sculpting capabilities, so we can achieve the precise level of targeting required to protect the patient’s healthy tissues during a radiosurgery procedure."

Novalis Tx is comprised of a powerful linear accelerator, which rotates around the patient to deliver treatment beams from virtually any angle. A set of advanced image guidance and motion management tools provide clinicians with detailed information about the shape, size and position of the target lesion. These tools also guide patient set up and positioning and monitor motion during treatment. A high-definition multi-leaf collimator shapes the treatment beam so it matches the shape of the tumour from every angle.

To ensure precise treatments, Novalis Tx incorporates three imaging systems. "One provides us with information about the precise location and shape of the tumour prior to treatment and another tracks motion, during treatment, so we can adjust our targeting if the patient shifts by even a few millimetres. The third enables us to verify treatment accuracy. There are also tools for synchronizing treatment with the patient’s normal breathing patterns that we can use to compensate for motion when treating in or near the lungs," said Horacio Patrocinio, Medical Physicist in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the MUHC.

After several months of construction, installation and simulation, the platform is now operational and is being used to treat our first patients. This new technology will complement services provided in the MUHC’s Department of Radiation Oncology at the Montreal General Hospital, which is already recognized for the excellence of its services. This department has also earned a supra-regional designation level 4, the highest level awarded by the Direction de la lutte contre le cancer in recognition of exceptional care, innovation, and outstanding research.

The acquisition of the Novalis Tx linear accelerator was made possible thanks to funding from the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux du Québec.

About the MUHC
The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) is a comprehensive academic health centre recognized internationally for excellence in care, research and teaching. Highly committed to the continuum of care in the community, it is affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine of McGill University. The MUHC’s partner hospitals—the Montreal Children's Hospital, the Montreal General Hospital, the Royal Victoria Hospital, the Montreal Neurological Hospital, the Montreal Chest Institute and the Lachine Hospital—value multidisciplinary service throughout the life span along with innovative technologies and practices, strategic partnerships and leadership in knowledge transfer. The MUHC is currently carrying out a $2.25-billion Redevelopment Project on three campuses—the Mountain, the Glen and Lachine—designed to provide healthcare professionals with an effective environment in which to ensure patients and their families benefit from The Best Care for Life. The campuses are also anchored in best sustainable-development practices, including LEED® and BOMA BESt guidelines. www.muhc.ca www.muhc.ca/construction

For more information, contact:
Julie Paquet
Public Affairs and Strategic Planning
514-934-1934, ext. 71684