The Varian Edge™ radiosurgery system works by using highly focused beams of powerful radiation to overwhelm cancer cells. Radiation damages the DNA in cancer cells, interrupting their ability to reproduce. When the damaged cancer cells attempt to divide, the tumor shrinks or dies. Normal cells, however, can recover from radiation more easily.
Similar to external-beam radiation therapy, radiosurgery is performed with a linear accelerator, or linac. The linac generates a high-energy radiation beam focused precisely on the tumor. The beam is delivered from many different angles to target each part of the tumor and deliver the prescribed amount of radiation.
Using real-time motion management technology, the patient’s position is checked every 10 milliseconds and the beam is automatically turned off if the patient moves to ensure patient safety during treatment. This results in minimal impact on surrounding healthy tissue and vital organs.
Radiosurgery is a non-invasive alternative to surgery, especially for patients who are unable to undergo surgery and for tumors that are hard to reach or located close to vital organs. The Varian Edge can be used to treat brain tumors and other brain disorders that can’t be treated by regular surgery. It also treats a wide range of cancers, including brain, breast, pancreas, lung, prostate and spine.
While a traditional radiation therapy routine may include up to 40 treatments (5 days a week for several weeks), radiosurgery is performed in five sessions or less over a period of two weeks.
Radiosurgery can be used alone as the best course of treatment for certain tumors or in combination with other treatment options, such as surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy or immunotherapy.
Benefits of radiosurgery:
- There are no incisions, no stitches, and therefore, no post-surgical recovery time.
- Radiosurgery is performed on an outpatient basis, so the patient can usually return to his or her normal activities the day following treatment.
- Treatment is delivered in only one to five sessions.
Long Beach Medical Center is the only hospital in the region to offer the Varian Edge and AlignRT – a radiation therapy guidance system that has been shown to reduce radiation exposure to the heart while patients are being treated for left breast cancer. These two systems together provide the most precise radiation treatment available for patients with breast cancer.