May 21, 2019

Riverside Introduces the Next Generation of cancer Technology to its Dedicated Radiosurgery Center

Radiosurgery has become an important tool in fighting cancers throughout the body, particularly in places that are hard to reach with traditional, open surgery. Radiosurgery uses targeted beams of radiation to perform knifeless surgery. 

Since 2005, the Radiosurgery Center at Riverside has incorporated the Gamma Knife® for the treatment of tumors and conditions that affect the brain. As well, a second suite served patients with cancers and conditions that impact the body. 

William Morris and Lee Miller, registered radiation therapists

Riverside is now introducing the Edge™ Radiosurgery Suite, which can accurately target tumors and other abnormalities without an incision or the need for recovery in a hospital setting. The new system is an improved technology that will allow our physicians to perform advanced, non-invasive cancer procedures anywhere in the body – including the brain, spine, head and neck, adrenal gland, lung, liver and pancreas – with extreme precision and low toxicity.

The new Edge system is the only one in Virginia and one of about 40 units available in the country. The care team at Riverside is excited to bring this new system and its many benefits to patients in Hampton Roads.

“We’ve been safely and successfully delivering radiosurgery for over 10 years,” explains Kelly Spencer, a physicist at Riverside’s Radiosurgery Center. “But the technology continues to evolve and platforms to deliver more integrated and 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 integrated Edge platform will allow us to work with the technology instead of fighting it and allow us to devote our complete attention to the patient, which is most important”.

The Edge, created by Varian Medical Systems, uses real-time imaging in tandem with a robotic couch integrated directly into the system, which makes scanning and repositioning patients to deliver their  custom treatment plan more seamless. Patients can also be scanned at any time during the procedure to ensure that proper placement is maintained or adjusted as needed. 

“The Edge system also offers sub-millimeter accuracy when targeting tumors, protecting healthy tissue,” adds Dr. Ron Kersh, a radiation oncologist at Riverside Regional Medical Center.

Patients treated with the Varian Edge can expect faster treatment times with minimal side effects, no incisions, and a return to daily activities right away.

“We are increasingly making cancer a chronic disease rather than a terminal diagnosis,” adds Kersh. “Cancer used to be seen as something you cured or something that you died from. But with radiosurgery, our patients are treating (sometimes multiple) cancers and living with a high quality of life for many, many years.”

Building Upon a Tradition of Advanced Cancer Care Options
Whether a first-time diagnosis, a recurrence, or a metastasis, Riverside has remained on the forefront of delivering the latest treatment options. That’s just one of the reasons they partnered with University of Virginia and Chesapeake Regional to open the state’s first and only dedicated radiosurgery center. 

Gamma Knife has long been considered the gold standard to treat many types of brain tumors, vascular lesions, and other abnormalities in the brain that can be hard to reach with traditional surgery. Using both these advanced technologies allows patients to receive treatments that are much shorter than traditional radiation requires. In addition, patients are able to go home immediately after each procedure with very few side effects and continue with daily routines and activities.

“The treatments offered with Gamma Knife at Riverside are the very same treatments that patients can receive at UVA, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, or even in Sweden where this technology was developed and first introduced decades ago,” says Dr. William McAllister, a neurosurgeon at Riverside. “Our patients in Hampton Roads don’t have to travel to receive the same care they would get at world-class institutions.”

Riverside has developed its Radiosurgery Center with a commitment to widely-studied and proven methodologies. With a research component that has published multiple studies, the Radiosurgery Center at Riverside often joins national and international academic centers in publishing findings that help shape future standards of care.  

With a multi-disciplinary team that includes neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists, physicists, radiation therapists, and a team of nurses and support staff, the Center has become a model for domestic and international cancer centers providing radiation care. The Center currently treats more than 400 radiosurgery cases every year.

“Very few, if any, community-based hospitals can say they have a dedicated radiosurgery center like the one at Riverside,” adds Kersh. “Our team focuses exclusively on radiosurgery and the quality of our program and our outcomes is on par or better than some of the best-known institutions in the world.”