Radiation oncologists at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) are now using the latest Varian RapidArc® Radiosurgery TrueBeam™ STx system – a highly precise, faster and noninvasive way of excising tumors using carefully shaped high-energy X-ray beams.
RapidArc treatment is delivered with a single 360-degree rotation of the linear accelerator, which takes less than two minutes – two to eight times faster than other radiosurgery systems. The increased speed of the treatment is a benefit to both the patient and the doctors. Shorter treatments improve patient comfort who must remain completely still during the procedure. It also reduces anxiety from longer treatment sessions.
Since a patient spends less time holding still, it will be easier to avoid movements that could compromise the accuracy of the treatment.
“This technology is amazingly accurate,” says Pauling Chang, M.D., a radiation oncologist at PAMF for 13 years, who practices at the Palo Alto Center. “It allows us to treat tumors not easily accessible with traditional surgery, anywhere in the body, including delicate and hard-to-reach places like the brain, spine, liver or lungs. It is wonderful to see patients undergo this radiotherapy then get up and say, ‘That was it?’ then go on with their day.”
Death rates from cancer are continuing to decrease, according to the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, published online on January 7, 2013, in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The decline in cancer death rates was attributed to treatment advances and better screening.
“Among the major cancers such as breast, prostate and colon cancers, strides have been made over the past 10 years,” said Dr. Tai. “More effective screening has resulted in more patients being diagnosed at an earlier stage, hence more cures.
“Improved treatment has also resulted in improved survival of cancer patients. In addition, the treatment of more advanced disease has dramatically improved. Patients benefit from targeted therapy, such as Her2+ breast cancer, and Rituxin in lymphoma patients.
The Palo Alto Medical Foundation invites the community to a free cancer awareness program on Saturday, October 13, 2012 to increase cancer awareness, prevention and early detection.
The “Cancer: From Prevention to Survivorship” event will take place at PAMF’s Mountain View Center, from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m, and is open to cancer patients, survivors, families and the community. Cancer experts from the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and Stanford University School of Medicine will speak, and Peter Yu, M.D., PAMF’s director of hematology and oncology research and past member of American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Board of Directors, will moderate the event, which is sponsored by New Frontiers in the Prevention of Breast Cancer.
Cancer Awareness Event Presentations:
Cancer Prevention for You and Your Family:
Presenter: Marcia Stefanick, Ph.D., Professor of Medicine, Stanford Prevention Research Center, Stanford University School of Medicine
“This event will share knowledge of what we know about environmental causes of cancer and inherited causes of cancer,” said Dr. Yu. “This knowledge is our brightest hope for developing more effective strategies for preventing cancer.”
A cancer diagnosis affects the body, mind and spirit. PAMF offers a complete array of free complementary care activities to help people manage the symptoms and improve their quality of life. View a list of complementary therapies and dates.
Learn more about Cancer Care at PAMF – including programs for caregivers of people with cancer.
Cancer patients, survivors, families and the community are invited to join the Palo Alto Medical Foundation in Mountain View on Saturday, October 22 and Santa Cruz on Saturday, October 29 for two free programs dedicated to increasing awareness about cancer, prevention and survivorship. The events titled, Breast Cancer — From Prevention to Survivorship, will include speakers and refreshments. Read More about PAMF Hosts Breast Cancer Awareness Program for Community
In a unique partnership, the Stanford University School of Medicine and the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) will collaborate on a breast cancer study that aims to improve outcomes for breast cancer patients.
The project is the brainchild of Richard Levy, Ph.D., a longtime community philanthropist and business leader, who said he saw an opportunity for the two medical centers to share expertise on a subject that is of great interest to him—improving cancer survival. He and his wife, Susan, will provide a gift of $2.1 million for the three-year study, which will focus on both the medical and psychosocial factors that contribute to cancer treatment and survival.
“From the point of view of patients, what makes for good health is good technology and good environmental factors, such as the doctor/patient relationship, nutrition, exercise and lifestyle factors,” said Levy, a resident of nearby Portola Valley, Calif. “Patients need both. Here we have two world-class institutions in both areas. It’s a natural partnership.”
Although scientists at the two medical centers have worked together over the years on many projects, this is the first time the two institutions have officially partnered with the intent of building a long-term collaborative relationship in research.
Levy is the former president and CEO of Varian Medical Systems in Palo Alto, where he has spent the last 40 years. He has longstanding ties to both Stanford and PAMF. He has served on the board of PAMF for the past 10 years and its parent, Sutter Health, for the last three. A nuclear chemist by training, he and his colleagues at Varian worked closely over the years with Stanford scientists in the Department of Radiation Oncology to pioneer linear accelerators for cancer treatment. Levy retired as CEO in 2006 but remains the company’s chairman of the board. He is also active in initiatives involving philanthropy and health-care reform.
Levy said he hopes the study will not only lead to improvements in cancer care but also point to ways of reducing medical-care costs nationally.
“If PAMF and Stanford can find a way to provide better care at lower cost, that will set an example for other communities,” he said.
In the study, physicians and scientists at both organizations will follow the journey of hundreds of patients throughout the course of their treatment with an eye to understanding the role of cancer biology and different patterns of care in outcomes and quality. The researchers will document every aspect of the patients’ treatment, including all tests, drug infusions, surgeries and radiation treatments, as well as nonmedical support they receive, such as yoga, alternative therapies or group therapy.
The Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) has become one of the first oncology practices in the nation to be recognized by the Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI®) Certification Program, an affiliate of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). The QOPI® Certification Program is a new initiative to certify oncology practices that meet rigorous standards for high-quality cancer care.
“Increasingly educated patients and families demand accountability and the highest standards from cancer care providers,” said Douglas W. Blayney, M.D., immediate past president of ASCO. “The QOPI certification will allow oncologists in the community to be at the forefront of cancer care, and to be recognized for their quality. The Certification Program will help practices determine whether they are providing the best treatment and care possible to their patients, and demonstrates a commitment to excellence and ongoing quality improvement in the hematology-oncology outpatient practice.”