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Regional Upgrades Cancer Treatment Technology

May 27, 2016 09:55AM ● By MED Magazine

Rapid City Regional Hospital’s Cancer Care Institute has upgraded its radiation treatment technology. As of April, CCI houses one of the newest TomoTherapy treatment systems in the world. 


CCI was a pioneer in the field of radiation oncology when it implemented TomoTherapy, a state-of-the-art radiation delivery system, in 2004. Now, 12 years later, Regional Health has upgraded the technology with a new unit to help ensure cancer patients can continue to receive advanced cancer radiation treatment in the Black Hills without having to travel hundreds—or even thousands—of miles.


“The new unit is very similar to the old unit in its ability to deliver precise stereotactic radiosurgery but there are important improvements,” Radiation Oncologist Michael Swartz, MD, told MED.

“When we are using high doses of radiation, patients sometimes have to be immobilized in relatively uncomfortable positions The increase in efficiency means it will decrease the time that they have to be uncomfortable. We just did a case that would normally take 30 minutes and we were able to do it in under 15.”


The faster unit is also likely to be more accurate since the shorter duration reduces the chance that a patient will need to move during the treatment. Finally, the heightened precision of the upgraded unit has been shown to produce fewer side effects and make it possible to treat tumors in hard to reach places in the brain, lung, liver and vertebral column.


“Where this will be especially helpful is in people who require repeat radiation because the dose is more confined just to the targeted areas,” says Dr. Swartz.  


“Tomotherapy has become a game changer in the field of radiation oncology and has far surpassed expectations,” says Radiation Oncologist Daniel Petereit, MD, who was instrumental in bringing the first TomoTherapy unit at CCI. When CCI installed its first unit, it was the fifth site in the world, and the first community site to offer it. The new TomoTherapy unit is the 580th installed worldwide.


Dr. Petereit says the new technology will be especially valuable in the treatment of early stage lung cancer in people with significant comorbidities. These patients can received three to five doses of radiation over a week to ten days instead of having to have six and a half weeks of radiation with more advanced lung cancer.


“Our goal is to make University level cancer treatments available here for people who either don’t have the resources to leave or simply don’t want to leave their home area for treatment,” says Dr. Petereit.


Regional has also been involved in TomoTherapy research.