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New program for French-speaking radiation oncology professionals established in conjunction with a leading cancer center in Avignon

Mar 26, 2013

AVIGNON, France, March 26, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Varian Medical Systems (NYSE: VAR), the world leader in radiotherapy equipment and software, has collaborated with one of France's leading cancer hospitals to provide a clinical training program on advanced image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT) and gating techniques for French-speaking customers. The Varian Advanced Imaging Clinical School has conducted its first class at the Institute Sainte Catherine in Avignon, attracting delegates from across France and Morocco.

Institute Sainte Catherine, which treats 2,500 new cancer patients each year on five Varian treatment machines, began using respiratory gating in 2000 and image-guidance in 2004 to account for breathing motion and target tumors more precisely. Today, more than 700 patients per year are being helped using these techniques, which enable clinicians to detect small changes in tumor position during and between treatments, and compensate for them to enhance precision.

"Image-guidance is extremely valuable for treatments of the prostate, head and neck, and for stereotactic body radiotherapy and intracranial fractionated radiotherapy," said Dr. Nicolas Pourel, head of the hospital's radiation oncology department.

The center also uses Varian's gating technologies for targeting moving tumors, such as in the lung and liver, and for left-sided breast cancer in order to better protect the heart, lung and coronary arteries during treatment. They achieve this using respiration control techniques such as deep inspiration breath-hold with a Varian automatic gating module and are implementing free breathing respiratory synchronization, where the beam is automatically switched on and off as the targeted area moves in and out of position. The participants at the first Varian Advanced Imaging School at Avignon were able to see all these techniques in action. "Teaching was augmented by practical work on linear accelerators which enabled the delegates to put the theory into practice," added Robin Garcia, head of radiotherapy physics. 

"This is the ninth clinical school we have established in conjunction with local centers as part of a successful peer-to-peer training program facilitated by the company," said Jens Groll, Varian's European education manager. "We are delighted to be able to extend our educational offerings for French speaking customers. This center has excellent experience with IGRT and gating. The team members at Avignon are very enthusiastic to share their experience with other users and customers will highly benefit from this new training program in France."

"We are pleased to extend our collaboration with Institute Sainte Catherine, one of the most innovative radiotherapy centers in France," added Youssef Rihane, Varian's regional sales director. "This initiative is also increasingly important for emerging French-speaking nations where radiotherapy is developing rapidly."  

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