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Fox Chase Cancer Center Adds "CT-on-Rails" to Radiation Therapy For Extreme Precision

PHILADELPHIA (October 7, 2003) — Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia is the only hospital in the region now offering a CT scan immediately prior to radiation treatment to ensure the precise delivery of the radiation. What's more, the CT scanner is mounted on rails in the treatment room's flooring, allowing the patient to remain stationary on the treatment table while the CT scanner is moved over the patient for imaging. This technology is called CT-on-rails.

Precision is paramount when treating tumors with high doses of radiation. IMRT (intensity-modulated radiation therapy) allows clinicians to shape the radiation beams to the tumor, but some organs such as the prostate can shift positions as the body moves. CT-on-rails tracks the organ's movement just moments before treatment and adjustments the radiation treatment plan accordingly.

"Studies show that by increasing the level of radiation delivered to a tumor the cure rate is increased, but a critical factor in delivering high-dose radiation therapy is pinpointing the tumor at the time of treatment," explained Alan Pollack, MD, PhD, chairman of radiation oncology at Fox Chase. "With prostate cancer, for example, we want to avoid the bladder and rectum to reduce side effects, such as incontinence, while maintaining a high dose of radiation. CT on-rails allows us to do that in an accurate and noninvasive way."

While the use of CT (computerized tomography) scans is not new in radiation treatment planning, the pairing of the CT scan with daily radiation treatment is novel. Prior to CT-on-rails, pinpointing the prostate's location had been accomplished using an ultrasound device, but other tumor sites cannot be easily visualized with ultrasound. The CT-on-rails will allow the same principle to be applied with more precision to the prostate and other cancer treatment sites.

Fox Chase radiation oncologists are currently studying the use of this technology and its benefits in the treatment of brain, esophageal and prostate cancers and will later study its use in the treatment of several other tumor types, including lung, liver, pancreas, rectal and cervical cancers.


Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

Media inquiries only, please contact Diana Quattrone at 215-728-7784.

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