Martin-O’Neil Cancer Center Offers Cancer Patients Fewer Treatments By Using New Technology That Precisely Delivers Radiation to Tumors

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New Technology at St. Helena Hospital’s Martin-O’Neil Cancer Center Offers Patients Suffering from Lung, Liver, Spine or Other Cancers Pinpoint-Accurate Radiation Delivery to Tumors, Resulting in Fewer Treatments and Side Effects.

St. Helena Hospital’s Martin-O’Neil Cancer Center is adding another leading-edge radiation therapy to its treatment regimens. Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) also known as Sterotactic Ablative Body Radiotherapy (SABR) is a pinpoint-accurate radiation delivery system designed to precisely target cancer tissue while sparing healthy surrounding tissue.

SBRT/SABR is a way of giving radiation to a tumor in the lung, liver, spine or other area that may not respond well to surgery, chemotherapy, conventional radiation, or other treatments. Non-invasive SBRT/SABR is especially useful when the patient is not a good candidate for conventional surgery or other treatments, the tumor’s location makes it inoperable, other therapies have failed to halt the cancer’s growth, or when the patient has undergone previous conventional radiation therapy. It can also be used on very small tumors or lesions, allowing oncologists to begin treatment at the earliest possible stage of cancer development, when it’s most effective.

“This is the most advanced, sophisticated treatment of its type in the world, and we’re pleased to be able to bring this technology to Napa Valley,” says David J. Tate, MD, the Radiation Oncologist leading implementation of the new system. “Studies in the early stages of lung cancer have shown survival rates nearly double those of conventional radiation therapy, and the power and precision of the delivery system translates into both improved patient outcomes and improved quality of life during and after treatment. This is a major clinical advance for our patients.”

Dr. Tate and Dr. Stephen Banks will be using SBRT/SABR along with other cutting-edge technologies such as brachytherapy and the Calypso “GPS for the Body” System, to treat a variety of cancers. A Stereotactic system along with the iX Linear Accelerator by Varian Medical Systems uses multiple radiation beams with image guidance to localize and target cancer tumors in the body, allowing physicians to treat the tumor with highly precise treatment fields.

“SBRT/SABR uses an individualized mold of the patient’s body to ensure exact positioning for each treatment. And because the system converges multiple, lower-dose beams from several angles, it actually targets a 3-dimensional model of the cancer,” says Dr. Banks. “It’s incredibly accurate, and concentrates the power of the beams inside the tumor or lesion, not on surrounding tissue. We can deliver more radiation per treatment without damaging healthy tissue, which means more cancer destroyed, with fewer treatments needed.” Instead of a course of treatment delivered in daily “fractions” over a period of weeks, patients may receive a single treatment, or up to five fractions several days apart.

The list of Cancers that can be treated successfully with SBRT/SABR continues to grow, and includes primary and metastatic tumors in the lungs, pancreas, bile duct, spine, central nervous system, liver, kidney, prostate and pelvic region, as well as sarcomas and metastatic tumors throughout the body. “This is a potent new weapon in our arsenal,” says Dr. Tate.

The Martin-O’Neil Cancer Center utilizes an integrated team approach to treating cancer patients in one convenient location with the most advanced technology available. We believe this team approach is essential to delivering complete, personalized, and compassionate care to our patients. To learn more about the Center, please call us at 707.967.5721

About St. Helena Hospital: With its many innovative wellness programs and other top quality healthcare services, including the Martin-O’Neil Cancer Center and Coon Joint Replacement Institute, St. Helena Hospital is one of the nation’s premier healthcare destinations. The Napa Valley based hospital serves its local communities with comprehensive medical care, including cancer, cardiovascular, orthopedic and behavioral health. For more information, visit


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Michelle Van Hoff
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