The war against cancer continues to wage daily. As a result, doctors and researchers are tirelessly looking for new and improved ways to treat patients affected by this terrible disease, hoping to eventually put an end to it altogether. Some of those latest and greatest advances that are happening right now are available right here in Coastal Virginia.
Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News recently introduced the next generation of cancer technology to its dedicated Radiosurgery Center. The new technology, called The Edge™ Radiosurgery Suite, was created by Varian Medical Systems. It uses real-time imaging in tandem with a robotic couch integrated directly into the systems, which makes scanning and repositioning patients to deliver their custom treatment plan more seamless.
The Edge can accurately target tumors and other abnormalities using focused beams of radiation without an incision or the need for recovery in a hospital setting. The new system is an improved technology that will allow Riverside physicians to perform advanced, non-invasive procedures anywhere in the body—including the brain, head and neck, adrenal gland, lungs, liver, pancreas and more—with extreme precision and low toxicity to the patient. In other words, patients can expect faster treatment times with minimal side effects. They can return to normal daily activities directly after treatment.
“We’ve been safely and successful delivering radiosurgery for more than 10 years,” says Kelly Spencer, a physician at Riverside’s dedicated Radiology Center. “But the technology continues to evolve, and platforms to deliver more precise care have developed. The Varian Edge was designed exclusively for the type of specialized radiosurgery applications we deliver. We are incredibly excited about the unique features of the Edge that will make treatment sessions faster and more comfortable for the patient, without compromising safety.”
The new Edge system is currently the only one in Virginia and one of only about 40 units available in the country.
While the Edge system is extremely useful in controlling or eradicating various forms of cancer that have already developed, other treatment plans are being tested and implemented by organizations such as Virginia Oncology Associates (with offices on the Peninsula and Southside) to stop cancer in its tracks during early development stages through clinical trials.
Clinical trial research is a critical component of community-based care for patients with cancer or blood disorders. It was once conducted exclusively at large university cancer centers or major metropolitan hospitals. Virginia Oncology Associates now brings clinical trial research to Coastal Virginia so patients don’t have to travel long distances or be away from their homes for extended periods of time.
VOA has access to clinical trials through their affiliation with US Oncology Research, directly through the National Institute Cooperative Groups, Eastern Virginia Medical School, the Duke Oncology Network and other major cancer centers. Patients can receive state-of-the art investigational therapies while their own local physician continues to direct and closely monitor their care.
One of the largest and most reputable community-based research networks in the world, US Oncology Research specializes in Phase I–IV oncology clinical trials and has participated in more than 1,200 investigator-initiated and sponsor-initiated trials since its inception. The program brings innovative therapies and clinical trials to practices and patients in communities across the nation to help advance the science of cancer care while offering the best possible treatments and improved patient outcomes.
Through their affiliation with US Oncology Research, Virginia Oncology Associates can bring these trials to Coastal Virginia. In addition, their research network is continually looking toward the future by developing initiatives in “personalized” or “individualized” medicine. These types of clinical trials offer the potential to recommend drug treatments based on the genetic makeup of each patient’s tumor or disorder.