TrueBeam now online in ‘little ole Sequim’

Sequim Gazette staff

Cancer treatment on the Olympic Peninsula has taken what Olympic Medical Center officials call a giant leap forward as the new TrueBeam linear accelerator is now online, operational and treating cancer patients at the Thomas Family Cancer Center on Fifth Avenue in Sequim.


Ken Berkes, interim director of Olympic Medical Cancer Center, said, “We’re now the envy of the Northwest physicists community. Right here in little ole Sequim.”


Berkes complimented the efforts of those who “worked feverishly” to get the $2.7 million machine up and running since its delivery on Jan. 29.


John Engstrom, the cancer center’s chief radiation therapist, said the new linear accelerator already is providing superior service. With dose delivery rates that are 40 percent to 140 percent higher than earlier generations of accelerators, the new system delivers quicker treatments.


Engstrom said, “We’ve just scratched the surface” in utilizing the new accelerator’s vast new capabilities. That includes “respiratory gating,” in which the machine adjusts for the patient’s movements, and its superior capabilities of providing stereotactic radiosurgery, in which a high dose of radiation is delivered to a finely defined area.


The TrueBeam can be used to deliver many forms of radiotherapy treatment including image-guided radiotherapy, intensity-modulated radiotherapy, volumetric modulated arc therapy and stereotactic body radiation therapy.


Perhaps most importantly, the TrueBeam delivers a minimal dose of radiation to surrounding noncancerous tissues, leading to better outcomes with fewer side effects.


For the past three months OMC has provided radiotherapy in a temporary vault located behind the Thomas Family Cancer Center. Patients now will be back under the same roof as other comprehensive cancer services, including medical oncology.


According to the lease terms with Varian, the temporary unit can remain on-site for up to three months as the company seeks a new client. “That way they don’t have to move it twice,” Engstrom said.


For more information, call 683-9895 or see

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