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Radiation Oncology

Innovative radiation therapy technology provides safer and faster treatment of complex tumors


CU-Radiation TherapyThe UCLA Department of Radiation Oncology has installed the new TrueBeam system for image-guided radiotherapy and radiosurgery in Westwood, and will soon be adding a second in its Santa Monica location. The new system will be used primarily to treat patients suffering from head and neck cancer, advanced lung cancer and breast cancer, but one of its principal strengths is as a platform for the development of new treatment regimens that could benefit a wide range of cancer patients.

UCLA radiation oncologists will use the advanced TrueBeam system to offer treatment possibilities to patients who may not otherwise have been able to tolerate radiation therapy, and to improve treatment for patients already amenable to radiotherapy. Our physicians will be able to improve treatment of some complex cancers, including those in areas subject to respiratory motion. The technology will enable physicians to significantly reduce treatment times, allowing patients who are in pain or are suffering from stress or claustrophobia to receive treatment as rapidly as possible. A treatment that might take 20 to 30 minutes using other radiotherapy systems can be completed in just three minutes using the TrueBeam system.

Cancer patients with multiple tumor sites or tumors with complex shapes are especially good candidates for treatment with the TrueBeam system, as are those whose tumors are too large to efficiently treat using previous technology.

A Complete Package

With the TrueBeam system, a number of key features and capabilities have been combined to produce a system that opens up many new treatment possibilities. The system is fully digital for optimal control and features robotics that can precisely position patients in six dimensions. This will allow physicians to develop therapies that deliver radiation from more angles and in configurations not previously possible.

The TrueBeam system is digitally integrated with the real-time imaging equipment used during treatment set-up and delivery, enhancing the precision of each treatment. The TrueBeam system can also reduce treatment times by delivering greater quantities of radiation faster than other treatment machines. The radiation beams are shaped using novel technology that allows physicians to better conform the radiation to the tumor area and target that area in less time. Faster treatment offers patients greater comfort and improves accuracy by leaving less time for tumor motion during radiation delivery.

A Focus on Safety

Treatment safety is an overriding priority within the UCLA Department of Radiation Oncology as well as an active area of scientific inquiry. Investigating the best ways to detect, report, analyze and correct rare errors has helped UCLA maintain an excellent safety record over a large number of cases while adding to the body of knowledge in the field.

Each treatment plan is subject to multiple reviews, by physicians and highly trained medical physicists, to ensure that patients will not be exposed to any unnecessary radiation in the course of their care. UCLA’s radiation oncology experts choose the best treatment and equipment combination to customize the treatment plan and provide the best care for each patient.

CU-Radiation Therapy True BeamResearch and clinical applications

“The TrueBeam system opens up a lot of possibilities,” says Patrick Kupelian, M.D., vice chairman and director of clinical affairs of the UCLA Department of Radiation Oncology. “We’re a research-oriented team. We are going to be able to do cutting-edge studies with this equipment.”

Currently, the TrueBeam system is being used at UCLA primarily to treat:

  • breast cancer using partial breast radiation and other novel, tissue-sparing techniques
  • pancreatic cancer using shorter courses of treatment
  • advanced lung cancer using shorter courses of treatment
  • head and neck cancers

“The new system excels at treating a number of tumor types because we can shape the radiation beams better and deliver the dose in less time,” Dr. Kupelian explains.

Participating Physicians

Michael Steinberg, M.D.
Professor and Chair
UCLA Department of Radiation Oncology

Pat Kupelian, M.D.
Professor and Vice-Chair
UCLA Department of Radiation Oncology

Christopher King, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Percy Lee, M.D.
Assistant Professor

Steve Lee, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Susan Mc Closkey, M.D.
Assistant Professor

Michael Selch, M.D.

Mitchell Kamrava, M.D.
Assistant Professor

Contact Information
UCLA Department of Radiation Oncology
200 UCLA Medical Plaza Suite B265
Los Angeles, CA 90095-6951

Phone: (310) 825-9775
Fax: (310) 794-9795

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