Advanced Treatment & Technology
The Cancer Center offers patients access to the latest technology, including:
- Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) is the most advanced technology to track cancer and normal tissues. Like a "high-precision laser scope" that makes the radiation extremely more precise and accurate, IGRT decreases radiation dose to normal tissue, decreases side effects and improves outcomes. Saint Agnes Cancer Center has the most advanced IGRT technology in California. We are the first in the Central Valley to use Trilogy RapidArc, Varian's most sophisticated treatment available in the world.
- Trilogy® Rapid Arc Linear Accelerator combines imaging and radiation therapy in one device, giving patients access to both conventional treatments (smaller doses over several weeks) and stereotactic treatments (higher doses for smaller lesions or tumors over a shorter period of time). With the Trilogy, clinicians can take an image as the patient is being treated, so they know exactly where the tumor is. This helps target the tumor more precisely and protect healthy surrounding tissue. The system also incorporates technology that synchronizes treatment with the patient's natural breathing cycle called respiratory gating. Patients can breathe normally and be confident that the dose is being delivered only when the tumor is in the right place. The Trilogy also delivers doses at least 60 percent faster than conventional accelerators, which improves accuracy and patient comfort.
- Gamma Knife® is the first stereotactic radiosurgery technology invented and remains the "gold standard" for treating tumors and other abnormalities in the brain and upper neck that were previously considered inoperable.Gamma Knife uses 192 beams of highly focused gamma rays to irradiate the target from every direction. Each low-intensity beam of radiation is too weak by itself to harm the tissue through which it passes. Damage occurs only at the spot where all the beams converge. With the help of a computer and the latest imaging technology (MRI, CT or angiography), physicians can identify the exact spot with pinpoint accuracy. Since no incisions are required in radio-surgery, the chance of complications is substantially reduced. Saint Agnes Medical Center is one of only 240 institutions worldwide using Gamma Knife, and among an elite group using the newest and most precise version - the Perfexion.
- Novalis® Shaped Beam Radiosurgery isn't surgery in the traditional sense. Instead it uses highly focused beams of radiation contoured to the exact shape and size of the tumor or lesion, thereby protecting surrounding healthy tissue. The high-tech linear accelerator-based system can be used to treat tumors throughout the body, including the brain, head and neck, lung, liver, pancreas, prostate and spine, as well as blood vessel malformations. Several other clinical applications are currently under investigation. Most exciting, Novalis Shaped Beam Radiosurgery can destroy, diminish in size, or stop the growth of tumors previously considered inoperable.
Also known as “interstitial radiation,” brachytherapy is the permanent implanting of radioactive “seeds” into the prostate gland. Brachytherapy delivers a prescribed dose of radiation directly to the cancer cells. There is only limited radiation to surrounding tissues such as the urethra and rectum. The seeds are usually permanently implanted and the radiation dissipates over time. Brachytherapy may be used alone or in combination with external beam radiation and/or hormonal therapy. Generally, it is an outpatient procedure. Some patients experience inablility to maintain an erection (impotence), loss of bladder control (incontinence), and narrowing of the urethra (urethral strictures).
- SAVI® Breast Brachytherapy is primarily used for early-stage breast cancer. The SAVI® device allows physicians to customize treatments and target radiation where it is needed most. It significantly reduces treatment duration and minimizes harm to healthy surrounding breast tissue. SAVI breast brachytherapy is an alternative to full breast radiation therapy for properly selected breast cancer patients who choose to undergo a lumpectomy in the operating room. During treatment, the breast surgeon positions the SAVI applicator in the space where the tumor was removed. Made up of an expandable bundle of catheters, the physician can configure the device so that it conforms to the size and shape of the lumpectomy cavity. Treatments usually last five days, compared to the six or seven weeks it can take with traditional full breast radiation therapy. Click here for more information.
- MammoSite® Radiation Therapy, primarily used for a Breast brachytherapy, is an alternative to full breast radiation therapy for properly selected lumpectomy patients with early stage breast cancer. The procedure uses a catheter-type device inserted into the space created by the lumpectomy with a balloon attached to its tip to deliver the prescribed levels of radiation. It's a site-specific treatment that enables radiation oncologists to deliver a more targeted and intense dose of radiation to the cavity and the immediate tissue surrounding the tumor, while minimizing harm to healthy surrounding tissue. Treatment is usually given twice a day for five days. (Conventional external radiation therapy takes about six weeks.)
- Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) is an exciting advancement in radiation technology. By modulating the intensity of the radiation, IMRT can shape the beam to conform to the contours of the tumor, thereby avoiding surrounding healthy tissue. Benefits include better tumor control and significantly reduced side effects. For more information, view our one-page fact sheet for more details.
- A 3-D Conformal Treatment Planning System that allows the accurate delivery of radiation to the cancer and minimizes contact with normal surrounding tissues.
- High Dose Rate (HDR) Treatments with a small radioactive source that allows delivery of radiation to a tumor in a small region without damaging other tissues. This technology is ideal for tumors close to organs that cannot tolerate much radiation.
- Strontium-89/Samarium-153 Injections of a radioactive chemical used for absorption into bony cancers, alleviating the pain and effectively destroying the cancer.
For more information, contact the Saint Agnes Cancer Center at (559) 450-5500.
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