Date: 6/5/2007

Community Hospital offers area’s most advanced technology for conventional radiation therapy

MUNSTER — Community Hospital has begun treating patients on the area’s only conventional radiation therapy system offering revolutionary image guidance technology to more precisely target the tumors.

The $3 million Varian Trilogy™ linear accelerator at Community Hospital will provide patients with a broader range of treatment options and the best chance for tumor control with the least damage to nearby healthy tissue. The new Trilogy linear accelerator system is an imaging and treatment machine combined into one. Doctors take an image as a patient is being treated so they know exactly where the tumor is. That helps physicians target the tumor more precisely. The accuracy of the Triology radiation system allows doctors to treat smaller lesions and tumors that are very close to vital structures. That can mean substantially fewer side effects.

“More than half of all cancer patients today undergo some form of radiation therapy so we felt this investment at Community Hospital was one of the most important ones we can make to ensure that our patients have access to the finest cancer-fighting technology,” said Don Fesko, Administrator of Community Hospital.

The system at Community Hospital also includes technologies that help doctors deal with tumor motion during treatment. A set of optical guidance cameras monitor and correct for any patient movement, while an infrared monitoring device turns the radiation beam on and off at a predetermined point in a patient’s breathing cycle to compensate for respiratory motion.

“These important tracking and targeting technologies will enable us to treat lesions that might not have been treatable in the past, said Zajac. “With the Trilogy System, Community Hospital has the potential to substantially improve treatment outcomes by doing a better job of protecting healthy tissue while delivering more powerful doses to tumors and other abnormalities. We’ll be able to protect healthy tissues to an unprecedented degree.”
The Trilogy linear accelerator with its stereotactic radiosurgery capabilities applies higher doses of radiation to smaller areas over short periods of time. This means that, in addition to cancer, doctors can use the system to treat benign and malignant brain tumors, arteriovenous malformations, trigeminal neuralgia and other neurological conditions. Stereotactic radiosurgery is a form of radiation therapy in which high doses of radiation are delivered using a very precise beam during a single treatment session.

“Stereotactic approaches are generally most appropriate for small lesions and early metastases,” said Andrej Zajac, M.D. Medical Director of Radiation Oncology at Community Hospital and the CyberKnife Center St. Catherine Hospital. “Better diagnostic tools are making it possible for us to see tumors much earlier, when they are still very small, so stereotactic radiotherapies are likely to play a much larger role in the future of cancer care.”

The Trilogy system compliments the Image Guidance Radiosurgery capabilities first introduced for high-dose radiation therapy at the CyberKnife Center at St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago.

“The $7 million investment in these two systems —Trilogy and CyberKnife — offers our patients access to the most advanced radiation therapy technology available anywhere in the country,” said John Gorski, Sr. Vice President of Hospital Operations for the Community Healthcare System, which comprises Community Hospital, St. Catherine Hospital and St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart.

“There are few hospitals in the U.S. today that can match the expertise of our team of doctors, physicists and technologists with Image Guided Radiation Therapy and Stereotactic Radiosurgery,” Gorski said. “The CyberKnife Center has been distinguished nationally for its work with lung cancer and the same medical team is now using that experience to tap the advanced capabilities of this new system at Community Hospital.”

For more information on Community Healthcare System doctors who use the Trilogy treatment and CyberKnife systems, call 219-836-3477 or toll-free 1866-836-3477 or visit