The latest in radiotherapy treatment through a linear accelerator is now available at Southeast Alabama Medical Center. SAMC’s Southeast Cancer Center introduced its TrueBeam Radiotherapy System linear accelerator on Monday, and the first patient was expected to undergo treatment through the machine Monday afternoon. According to TrueBeam maker Varian’s website, the TrueBeam system is a fully-integrated system for image-guided radiotherapy radiosurgery that treats cancer anywhere in the body where radiation treatment is indicated.
The type of treatment the system delivers is known as Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy treatments. SAMC spokesman Steve Pearce said the nearest hospital with similar technology is located in Montgomery.
Dr. Jarrod Adkison, a radiation oncologist, said the new accelerator allows treatment to be administered within about five minutes, which he said is about twice as fast as previous treatment. He said the new machine also has better imaging capabilities that allow doctors to see a tumor before actually treating it.
“The actual treatment delivery is going to help us give treatments with better confidence that we’re hitting the right area and lining up the right spot so the patient has a more comfortable experience,” he said.
“Almost all cancers have indications for radiation in some form. Anything we can do to make the treatment faster and more comfortable is always an advantage for us and for the patient.” Dr. Steve Stokes said the new technology significantly changes how treatments have been administered over the last few decades.
He said the technology aligns SAMC with treatments offered at UAB and assures residents in the local area that they are receiving the best cancer treatment available.
“Cancer is probably the most frightening news that any family gets, and where you receive treatment is probably the most important decision you will ever make because it really is the difference between life and death,” he said.
“Our team works every day to make sure we earn the respect and the confidence of families so they know their decision was the right decision,” Stokes said the new machine costs $4 million.
It was installed about four months ago and underwent about a month’s worth of quality assurance tests known as the commissioning process, Adkinson said. According to SAMC, the Southeast Cancer Center treats about 1,200 cancer cases a year. The center’s team consists of specially trained nurses, physicists, dosimetrists, and radiation therapists, as well as case workers, dietitians, and rehab therapists.