By Dennis Domrzalski, Reporter- Albuquerque Business First
Lovelace Medical Center in Albuquerque was the first U.S. hospital to flip a switch and activate a new cancer-fighting technology that the hospital says can zap cancerous tumors in half the time as previous technology did, according to hospital officials.
Lovelace activated the technology, called Dynamic Jaws, about six weeks ago. It’s part of the hospital’s treatment equipment that uses imaging and radiation to treat cancer patients, said Dr. Paul Anthony, medical director of Lovelace’s Cancer Care Program.
Technically, it’s part of the hospital’s TomoHD 21iX linear accelerator and 4-D computed tomography equipment that can image a tumor, secure a patient so she’s immobile and shoot a small beam of radiation at the tumor, Anthony said.
Lovelace bought the equipment nearly two years ago. The linear accelerator came with the Dynamic Jaws technology installed, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hadn’t yet approved it for use, Anthony explained. He said the FDA finally approved the technology about two months ago.
The linear accelerator shoots a beam of radiation about the diameter of a pencil at tumors. The Dynamic Jaws technology allows beams the size of about two or three pencil diameters and can speed up treatment of larger tumors.
“Now the treatment is faster, so what used to take 10 minutes now takes 5 minutes,” Anthony said.
The linear accelerator shoots hundreds of low-dose radiation beams at a tumor. Combined, those beams deliver a concentrated dose of radiation directly at the tumor and spare surrounding healthy tissue from radiation damage, Anthony added. The Lovelace Radiation Oncology program treats about 500 new patients each year, said Lovelace spokeswoman Laurie Volkin.
Anthony said there are about 80 linear accelerators in operation in U.S. hospitals. Activating the Dynamic Jaws technology involved more than flipping a switch, Anthony added. “It took a couple of days for the engineers to convert it,” Anthony said.
In this file photo, Lisa Berle, D.O. with the Lovelace Medical Center’s Cancer Care Program, is pictured with the TomoHD technology.