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Tackling Cancer without Surgery

Sep 26, 2019

Cutting Fact from Fiction in Cancer Treatments

TruBeamCancer treatment can be intimidating – especially when that treatment is surgery.  But there are other options that don’t involve cutting, including some of the latest advances in a treatment called radiosurgery now available in Palm Springs.  This treatment has many advantages to conventional surgery – and there is no cutting required.

Benefits of radiosurgery

  • Does not require anesthesia
  • No surgical incisions
  • Outpatient procedure
  • Less invasive
  • Spares healthy tissue
  • Decreased toxicity
  • Shorter treatment plans
  • 30-minute or less treatment sessions for some

“The main sites for which we are using radiosurgery include: brain, lung, liver, spine and the prostate,” said Amir Lavaf, MD, a radiation oncologist at Desert Care Network’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“We’re ablating tumors without having to cut people open or put them under,” he said. The high-tech machine that helps Dr. Lavaf and other Desert Care Network physicians perform these ultra-precise procedures is the Varian TrueBeam, a linear accelerator for cancer treatment.

What is a linear accelerator?   “It’s a machine that generates photons,” Dr. Lavaf said. “The radiation in the TrueBeam is the same type of radiation that you’re being exposed to from the sun every day. Those are photons and these are photons.”

Radiation has been used in the management of cancer for over 100 years. “Radiation is nothing more than X-rays, the same X-rays you’d undergo with a mammogram or CT Scan.  However, with radiosurgery, we’ve been able to modulate and increase the energy of those X-rays to focus them onto the point of the tumor with minimal effect to the tissue around it,” said Dr. Lavaf.

Targeting the tumor this way, Dr. Lavaf said, is equivalent to cutting the tumor out.  “The outcomes for lung and liver cancer treatment (with radiosurgery) are equivalent to doing surgery,” said Dr. Lavaf. “Patients get the same outcomes with less side effects, no anesthesia, and minimal recovery time.”

The treatment sessions only take a few minutes and patients can often be in and out in a half hour or less.  “With the TrueBeam, we can compress [the treatments] into three to five treatments in one week,” said Dr. Lavaf.

It’s also more comfortable for the patient. Patients lie comfortably on a table and the radiation oncologist conducts the beam placement using CT-guided imaging, while the machine tracks the location of the tumor in real time.

The ultimate goal: to treat cancer in the most effective way possible with the least amount of disruption, damage, or discomfort. 

Nearly everyone has been affected by cancer in some way – a friend, a relative or even themselves. So the greater our knowledge on treatment options, the greater the knowledge and resources are available to those we love. If you’d like to find out more about radiosurgery and other technologies for non-invasive management of cancer, join Dr. Lavaf for a free seminar on September 27. He will be speaking about this technology and there will be plenty of time for questions and answers.

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