New cancer treatment technology at our fingertips

Posted on 3 March 2020

Doctors at Mediclinic Vereeniging are fast developing a reputation for next-generation cancer care due to new cancer treatment technology.

The innovative cancer care options on offer at Mediclinic Vereeniging continue to advance, as its team of doctors become proficient in utilising another new piece of technology that could change many patients’ lives for the better.

In 2018, the hospital’s Vaal Triangle Oncology Centre unveiled the Elekta Synergy Platform Linear Accelerator, which uses a linear accelerator to administer intensity-modulated radiation therapy, a type of external beam radiation therapy. At the time, doctors were excited about the technology’s potential to target and eliminate cancerous cells without harming the healthy cells around them.

Now, they are empowered to provide an even more precise level of targeted treatment for patients presenting with brain tumours, by using the Leksell Gamma Knife Icon – the latest in a long line of technological advancements aimed at improving the outcomes of patients with brain cancer.

There are over 120 types of brain and central nervous system tumours, both malignant and benign. Because of the size and position of these tumours, surgical removal can be complex, requiring specialised treatments and techniques to protect the surrounding tissue.

One of those treatment techniques is radiosurgery. First founded in 1968 by Swedish neurosurgeon Professor Lars Leksell and his colleague, Börje Larsson, this therapy has evolved into the gold standard treatment for functional brain disorders. The Icon introduces the next generation of this treatment: microradiosurgery.

As the latest of its kind, the Icon is incredibly accurate, says Dr Frank Bonfils-Persson, a clinical radiation oncologist at Mediclinic Vereeniging. “In the past, patients with brain tumours would need extensive surgery. A meningioma, for example, which forms on membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord, can take 21 hours to remove.”

It is also extraordinarily effective. “The device works by concentrating tiny beams of radiation onto a tumour, and can target a lesion just 0.3 millimetres wide,” he says. “As there is no need for an incision, this is not a surgical procedure. And we have a cure rate upwards of 85%.”

The Leksell Gamma Knife Icon has transformed this kind of surgery into an outpatient procedure. “This is a once-off treatment,” he explains. “We are transmitting a huge dose of energy directly and accurately into that specific lesion and nowhere else. It is so effective that our patients are in and out of hospital the same day.”

The Vaal Triangle Oncology Centre is a facility of Alberts, Bouwer & Jordaan Incorporated Oncology Centre. ABJ Inc. runs a number of cancer treatment centres in various locations in Gauteng and the North West Province, including the Leksell Gamma Knife Icon’s home in Milpark.

Microsradiosurgery may be recommended for those with primary and metastatic brain tumours. Along with meningiomas, it is typically used to treat schwannomas, a tumour of the tissue that covers nerves, and arterio-venous malformation – a tangle of abnormal blood vessels connecting arteries and veins in the brain.

Published in Innovation