In the past, cancer treatment of any kind usually involved large blocks of time spent at a treatment center or in a hospital receiving chemotherapy or x-ray therapy. Now, a new treatment has been made available which offers an alternative to the type of surgery generally available in cancer therapy. There is no incision, no hospital stay, and the treatment is sometimes over in less than 15 minutes.

What is “The Edge”?

At Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan, “The Edge” Radiosurgery Suite is able to perform non-invasive procedures in all parts of the body – even difficult areas to treat such as the brain, spinal cord, adrenal glands, lung, liver, and pancreas.

The Edge” was created by Varian Medical Systems and uses tumor tracking technology and motion management to improve safety and comfort for patients. According to an imaging expert with a Bachelor degree in Radiology, this system is designed to ensure healthy tissue is protected during the procedure. The cutting edge beam that delivers this procedure has the agility to reach tumors that might be impossible to treat surgically. Most of the treatment is outpatient and often completed within one week.

The first patients will begin treatment this week at Henry Ford Hospital, where the Department of Radiation Oncology has already treated more than 4,000 patients with this particular type of stereotactic radiation.

In Practice

The Edge offers patients even faster treatment, with high dose rates delivered quickly, 10 to 20 minutes compared to systems that take over an hour per session. There is increased comfort for the patient, with the use of a treatment couch that provides accuracy, precision and flexibility to adjust and position patients so that free breathing and comfort is maintained. Imaging is able to be done in real time, making is possible to compensate for motion of the tumor during treatments. The unique multi-leaf collimator provides a distinct “edge” for the radiosurgery, aiding visualization and precision.

The treatments are cost-effective when compared to the cost of a proton beam unit, and the Edge can treat accurately those who might otherwise be sent to a proton beam center.

Stereotactic radiation delivers intense radiation to tumors in one to five treatments, with a precision that protects healthy tissues surrounding the tumor. The procedure is non-invasive and the goal is to destroy the tumor. With its ease of administration, its comfort level for the patient, and its potential for good management of tumors anywhere in the body, this is a treatment that deserves the excitement surrounding it.