The Best the World Has to Offer - Advanced Cancer Treatment Using VMAT

by Cancer Center | Jan 11, 2017
Santa Barbara and Monaco
Here on the “American Riviera” we now share more than just great climate and breathtaking scenery with Monte Carlo, Monaco, the iconic Mediterranean destination some 6,000 miles away.

The Cancer Center of Santa Barbara with Sansum Clinic recently commissioned “Monte Carlo” and “Monaco 5” as part of a new system that is helping us to better treat cancer and save lives right here in Santa Barbara.

Monaco 5 and Monte Carlo are an integral part of our new VMAT (Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy) that delivers the most advanced form of radiation therapy available anywhere. Of the three main approaches to cancer treatment — surgery, chemotherapy and radiation — radiation therapy is used in more than half of all cancer treatments.

Our new VMAT system has unique advantages and is steadily becoming more effective with new generation tools like the Monaco 5 and Monte Carlo. Monaco 5 is a treatment planning system that allows our specialists to develop a more accurate individualized treatment plan for each patient to kill more cancer cells more quickly and effectively than ever before.

Monaco 5 is controlled by Monte Carlo, the most advanced calculation engine in use anywhere in the world at this time. Together, the system permits ultra-precise dose delivery in a shorter amount of time using VMAT. VMAT is one type of treatment we use based on man made radiation rather than using radioactive substances in creating the radiation. VMAT, instead, uses microwave-created X-rays very similar to those used in satellite TV transmissions. Unlike satellite TV, however, the system uses a Linear Accelerator called a LINAC which moves electrons at almost the speed of light or about 186,000 miles per second. That’s about the same as traveling from Santa Barbara to Monte Carlo and back 15 times in one second!

As they reach maximum speed, the electrons collide with a metal target releasing an amazing amount of energy in the form of x-ray photons which are tiny bundles of energy. That energy release in a tumor is what kills cancer cells.

To achieve this remarkable feat of physics, the LINAC stands 9 feet tall, is 15 feet long and weighs in at approximately 18,700 pounds. All radiation therapy takes place inside a sealed vault specially constructed with concrete walls that are more than 8 feet thick.

When the LINAC is “on”, all radiation is directed to the cancer cells and when it is “off” there is no more radiation being transported or stored anywhere, leaving a safer environment for our patients, our staff and our community.

When used together, these more precise systems can pinpoint cancer-killing energy beams more effectively than ever before while protecting healthy tissue. The system improves patient comfort and cure rates while reducing treatment times from 40-50 minutes to only 10 minutes or less using VMAT.

Much like Monte Carlo, Santa Barbara is a special place with many of the best things the world has to offer. By continuing to invest in the latest technologies like VMAT, Cancer Center of Santa Barbara is dedicated to making sure that our patients have access to the best cancer treatments the world has to offer.

Sansum Clinic would like to recognize physicist, Nabil Adnani for his tireless efforts over a three year planning and commissioning process that allowed us to offer this life saving therapy to our patients.