Mountain View, CA - May 7, 2010 - El Camino Hospital's new Center for Advanced Radiotherapy and Cyberknife Radiosurgery--operated in partnership with Western Radiation Oncology (WRO)--showcases the tremendous technological advances in radiation therapy achieved over the past three decades. With the most advanced combination of technology and treatment available in the region, its focus is on delivering the ultimate in high precision, targeted radiation therapies for breast, prostate, gynecologic and endorectal cancers using technology ranging from High Dose Rate (HDR) brachytherapy to the Cyberknife. The goal is to spare healthy tissue, reduce side effects, and in many cases cut treatment down to just a few days.
An example is breast cancer treatment, where the relatively new application of HDR brachytherapy, a technology that delivers radiation direct to a tumor site inside the body, has made a dramatic difference for many patients who now can be treated in just five days versus the six week treatment that has been the norm. The therapy not only reduces treatment time, but minimizes damage to healthy tissue surrounding tumors.
El Camino Hospital was the first in Northern California to install the latest HDR brachytherapy devices to offer this treatment for breast cancer, and currently serves the highest volume of HDR brachytherapy patients in the region. With only a few hundred centers nationwide offering the five-day treatment alternative, El Camino Hospital has become a virtual "medical tourism" destination. In the past 12 months since the arrival of Dr. Rakesh Patel, an internationally renowned brachytherapy pioneer who has treated more than 1000 patients over the past ten years, patients have come to Mountain View for HDR brachytherapy breast cancer treatment from as far away as Pismo Beach, Sonora, and Turlock. Several of those patients have subsequently recommended the center to other patients.
Radiation has been a key component of breast cancer treatment for decades. It's known that following a lumpectomy or mastectomy, radiation lowers the rate of recurrence within ten years from an average of 30 percent to 5-10 percent. However, although the treatment has been refined over many years, for the vast majority of the nearly 200,000 U.S. women diagnosed annually, it still involves six weeks of life-disrupting trips to a cancer center, temporary yet significant side effects and an often-lengthy recovery process caused to a degree by the necessity of irradiating healthy tissue adjacent to the tumor. This is despite the fact that two out of three breast cancer patients are eligible for the shorter internal radiation treatment.
A patient success story
"HDR brachytherapy is a game-changing alternative for patients who are favorable candidates," said Dr. Patel. "Stay in a nice hotel near the hospital for five days of the best available treatment, versus spending six weeks making 30 back-and-forth trips to a cancer center that might be quite some distance from your home--and potentially experiencing more side effects and a longer recovery period. I believe that given our Silicon Valley location, cutting-edge technology, and strong clinical expertise, we are well-positioned to offer this innovative treatment to patients around the globe, many of whom have relatives in the area."
For Nancie Crowley, a busy and successful Los Altos Hills artist who was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2009, the availability of HDR brachytherapy provided by Dr. Patel at El Camino Hospital meant that instead of six weeks, she could be done with treatment in less than one week.
"Putting my life on hold for nearly two months--with the prospect of even more down time for recovery--was not an option I even wanted to consider," said Crowley. "After learning that 10-year outcomes for HDR brachytherapy in early stage patients are equivalent to conventional six week radiation treatment, the choice was simple. I'm six months out and feel like a million dollars." Watch a video of Ms. Crowley's story.
"Depending on the treatment plan, HDR brachytherapy can be customized and allows us to present the patient with the broadest possible treatment options. In nearly all cases, it reduces treatment time, and results in fewer side effects--with comparable or better outcomes." said Dr. Patel. "The long-term results are very favorable in terms of preventing breast cancer recurrence while improving overall patient quality of life. This is in particular important to working women, mothers, elderly patients and those living at a great distance from a radiation treatment center. The key to excellent outcomes is careful patient selection and a strong multi-disciplinary approach to each patient. With our comprehensive cancer program, we are able to achieve this here at El Camino Hospital."
El Camino Hospital named international training center
El Camino Hospital's capabilities in brachytherapy are so exceptional that Nucletron, a European company that is a leading provider of integrated products, software and services for radiation oncology, selected El Camino Hospital as the first western U.S. Nucletron International Training and Reference Center. Dr. Patel, who is the 2010 president of the American Brachytherapy Society, will lead the clinical faculty.
Outfitted with the most advanced technology available and staffed by some of the leading board-certified radiation oncologists in the nation, El Camino Hospital and its physician pioneers in breast and prostate brachytherapy will train physicians worldwide on advanced 3D HDR brachytherapy.
"El Camino Hospital has long considered one of its most important missions to be helping increase access to advanced medical techniques and technology," said Dr. Patel. "The Nucletron International Training and Reference Center at ECH will provide unique and much needed training opportunities for clinicians in North America and from around the world. These will help them significantly expand and deepen their brachytherapy skills--thus ensuring that more patients get the best treatment options."
The Center for Advanced Radiotherapy and Cyberknife Radiosurgery at El Camino Hospital, recently ranked the most technologically advanced hospital in the United States by Popular Science magazine, offers a combination that is in short supply nationwide. Only about 200 hospitals worldwide (just five in Northern California) offer Cyberknife radiosurgery, a non-invasive alternative to surgery that externally delivers precisely targeted high-dose radiation to treat cancerous and non-cancerous tumors that are surgically complex or inoperable. And of about 2200 cancer centers in the U.S., roughly 600 have HDR brachytherapy - with even fewer having the expertise to apply it to breast cancer treatment.
The Cyberknife and HDR brachytherapy technologies represent major capital investments for El Camino Hospital, which not only purchased the latest software and equipment, but also installed a special brachytherapy suite for treatment. Management considered the radiation oncology center to be a logical extension of the hospital's extensive and comprehensive Cancer Center and cancer services.
"We responded to a tremendous community need," said Dr. Shyamali Singhal, medical director of the Cancer Center at El Camino Hospital. "Although there are some Cyberknife installations on the Peninsula, no one else had put together the full range of treatment options. And no one else offered such a state-of-the-art combination of prevention, diagnostic and therapeutic programs, including patient support. We felt it was critical to make sure our community was better-served." The Center for Advanced Radiotherapy and Cyberknife Radiosurgery at El Camino Hospital opened on May 3, 2010. Media are invited to tour the new facility by appointment.