JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Being diagnosed with cancer is a scary time in a person's life. Big decisions about treatment options have to be made and new technology at the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute at Shands Jacksonville may help those whose cancer has begun to spread.
The new machine called VERO is changing the way metastatic cancer is treated. Instead of chemotherapy, the VERO machine uses high dose radiation therapy along with image-guiding technology to see and treat the cancer in real time.
Here's how it works: the patient lies still while VERO's ring rotates around them. The image-guiding software provides doctors with a detailed, real-time look at the size, shape and position of the cancer so the high dose of radiation can more precisely hit the cancer lesion, sparing healthy cells around the lesion.
It even takes in to account a person's movement during treatment, such as breathing.
"Because we can safely deliver very high doses of radiation to well defined targets and know that what we are aiming at is what we are hitting, it opens new doors for these patients," says Dr. Roi Dagan an Assistant Professor at UF Radiation Oncology and the Director of the Metastatic Disease Program at UF & Shands Jacksonville.
The VERO technology is very new to the cancer field. The VERO at UF & Shands Jacksonville is only the second VERO machine in the United States and it started treating its first patient in October.
Dr. Dagan says that patient is doing well and so far all five of the patients they have treated with the VERO machine are side-effect free and they haven't yet seen any reoccurrence of the cancer after treatment.
He hopes that with the new technology, patients with metastatic cancer realize their diagnosis doesn't have to be a death sentence.
"What we hope to do with this technology and the metastatic disease program is redefine what is incurable," says Dr. Dagan.
If you would like to contact the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute at Shands Jacksonville to learn more about the VERO you can call 855-860-8070.
First Coast News