Icon Oncology pioneers respiratory gating system at KZN flagship radiation therapy unit

Icon Oncology is rolling out respiratory gating technology which will help patients with difficult to reach tumors to receive precision-focused radiation therapy.

Its high-tech stereotactic enabled flagship unit in Berea, Durban is now equipped with the Elekta ABC™ (Active Breathing Coordinator) tracking system. The system is designed to increase accuracy and reduce damage to healthy tissue during radiation therapy.

According to Dr Ernst Marais, COO of Icon Oncology, this is the first time this respiratory gating system is available in the province; “Icon Oncology continuously identify and invest in technology and software to ensure the best possible outcomes and experience for our patients. The system will help especially breast cancer patients with tumours on the left side as it allows more accurate therapy.”

Patients receive radiotherapy on an Elekta Versa Linac at The Oncology Centre in Berea, KZN.

How does it work?

“Radiation therapy aims to deliver the right amount of radiation to cancer cells while minimizing harm to healthy cells nearby. However, treating patients with radiation therapy can be challenging because tumours and critical structures like organs are always moving with normal body functions,” says Dr Poovan Govender, an oncologist from Oncocare, who is based at the unit.

“One challenge is the patient’s breathing, which can introduce inaccuracies in radiation therapy delivery, especially in the chest and abdomen. Another challenge is that critical structures, like the heart, can be too close to the tumour and can be damaged if too much radiation is delivered to the area,” further explains Oncocare oncologist, Dr Leon Marais.

To solve these challenges, oncologists in Kwazulu Natal can all now use the Active Breathing Coordinator™ (ABC) system installed at The Oncology Centre in Berea. This system helps patients to hold their breath at a certain level so that doctors can deliver radiation therapy more accurately.

“The ABC system helps us to plan and deliver more precise treatments by getting better data from simulations and CT scans. This is really a gamechanger for left breast treatments ensuring critical organs like the heart is spared. It is also extremely effective for the treatment of difficult to reach tumours like lung and other thoracic cancers and certain liver and pancreatic cancers,” says oncologist, Dr Greg Landers from The Oncology Centre.