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Accuray launches user forum, shares prostate research

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | October 12, 2011
Doctors from around the world who use radiation therapy equipment made by Accuray Inc. can now swap treatment protocols, ideas and technical tips through the company's new user forum, called Accuray Exchange for Radiation Oncology.

"Connecting groups that have expertise has added value," explained Michael Brandt, general manager of the Americas for Accuray, when he spoke with DOTmed News by phone last week from the floor of the American Society for Radiation Oncology's annual convention in Miami, where the service launched. Already when we spoke at the start of the show, about 40 doctors had signed up for the forum.

The new program was one of the many announcements the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company made at the meeting, the biggest in the field of radiation oncology. It was also the first ASTRO the company attended since it bought fellow radiation therapy manufacturer TomoTherapy in June.

Among the menu of changes announced at the show were updates to TomoTherapy's CT-guided radiation therapy machine, allowing remote-access to treatment plans for staff who don't live nearby, a feature currently available on Accuray's own CyberKnife. And for the CyberKnife, the company also released second-generation lung treatment suites and tracking software to perform spine radiosurgery on patients lying prone. The company also now offers two of its high-tier service and maintenance contracts to TomoTherapy customers.

More prostate research

In addition to business announcements, the company shared about 100 scientific presentations and abstracts based on treatments using CyberKnife technology. A growing area of study is using the CyberKnife -- which allows for "hypofractionated" treatments, meaning fewer rounds of therapy at higher doses -- for prostate cancer.

Brandt said the number of prostate treatments done with the CyberKnife grew 24 percent for the quarter ending June 30 over the same quarter a year ago, and 17 percent over the previous quarter this year, ending in March.

One study highlighted by the company involved 136 patients with localized prostate cancer, who were treated with CyberKnife therapy at Winthrop University Hospital, a 591-bed teaching hospital in the Long Island town of Mineola, N.Y.

The men, who all had low or intermediate risk disease, received 35-36 Gy over five fractions. After follow-up a median two years later, prostate specific antigen levels had fallen from a median 6.1 to a median 2.2, and no patient had PSA failure, meaning there was no sign of the biomarker bouncing back after treatment.

"Stereotactic body radiotherapy using a CyberKnife robotic linear accelerator continues to be extremely well tolerated and efficacious in the management of localized prostate cancer. Continued follow-up will be required to see if the results remain durable," wrote the researchers, led by Dr. Jonathan A. Haas, chief of radiation at Winthrop and an assistant professor of radiation oncology at SUNY Stonybrook.

The research is important for the company, as in 2008, ASTRO's board of directors, in a position statement, determined there wasn't enough evidence yet to recommend CyberKnife for prostate cancer as the "standard of care," and called for more clinical trials.

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