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NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens Cuts Ribbon on Its Cancer Center's Upgraded Linear Accelerator

Borough President and Hospital Officials Join in Welcoming the Launch of the Upgraded Technology

Oct 25, 2018

Dr. James Li, director of radiology at NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens (at right), and Tomas Saravia, senior radiation therapist at NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens (left), use “Lucy the Mannequin” to demonstrate how the linear accelerator works.
Queens, NY

NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens officially marked the opening today of an upgraded linear accelerator that will offer a more accurate, less invasive, and better tolerated treatment option for cancer patients. Celebrated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony, the newly upgraded equipment will expand access to high-quality cancer care in the southeast Queens community.

The $1.1 million upgrade will enhance the treatment of various forms of cancer in the hospital’s Cancer Center by more precisely targeting tumors while limiting damage done to surrounding healthy tissue and by offering two new treatment options: stereotactic radiosurgery and stereotactic body radio therapy.

At the ribbon cutting, Chris Roker, chief executive officer of NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens, was joined by Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and several hospital leaders, including Jasmin Moshirpur, MD, dean/chief medical officer, Margaret Kemeny, MD, FACS, director of the Queens Cancer Center, and William Li, MD, director of the Department of Radiation Oncology.

The upgrade, a combination of software and hardware improvements, adds state-of-the-art image-guided radiotherapy functionality that makes it possible for doctors to pinpoint the real-time position of a tumor—particularly useful when treating tumors in body parts that move, such as the lungs. Imaging scans are repeated and processed by computer software to identify changes in the tumor’s size and location, empowering radiation oncologists with information to reposition the patient and/or adjust the radiation beams to more precisely target the radiation dose to the tumor and help spare surrounding normal tissue. A corollary benefit of the software is its ability to conform the targeted radiation doses to the shape of the tumor.

Hardware additions include On-Board Imaging/Cone Beam CT, an Optical Surface Monitoring System, a Multi-Leaf Controller, an Electronic Portal Imaging Device, Radiosurgery Cones and accessories, and quality assurance/quality control devices.

“With the installation of this linear accelerator upgrade, Queens residents have easy access to first-class cancer treatment,” said Borough President Melinda Katz. “Congratulations to NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens for bringing cutting-edge technology to our borough.”

“As technology advances, the health care industry has become increasingly competitive, allowing many different treatment options for the consumer,” said Dr. Moshirpur. “This upgraded cancer treatment delivery system will help to provide a framework for NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens to treat more patients in Queens County. The existing state-of-the-art equipment, coupled with the community’s perception of the service provider, together establish important elements in successfully attracting a wide cross section of patients.”

“The new linear accelerator will enable NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens to treat more patients in a timely fashion and to support the building of a stereotactic radiosurgery program,” said Mr. Roker. “In achieving these goals, we foresee more Queens patients being able to remain in their community for state-of-the-art radiation treatment.”

Hospital leaders project increased demand for and utilization of radiosurgery in the treatment of cancer in the coming years.

“Stereotactic radiation therapy has proven to be a less invasive and better tolerated treatment option for cancer patients, one that improves the patient’s quality of life and overall satisfaction,” said Dr. Kemeny. “This non-surgical therapy can deliver precisely targeted radiation in fewer high-dose treatments than traditional therapy, thus preserving healthy tissue. Once established, the stereotactic radiosurgery program will be a model within NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens and an important resource health system-wide.”

“Radiation oncology, a medical specialty devoted primarily to the treatment of cancer, uses large doses of high-energy beams to destroy cancer cells in specifically targeted areas,” said Dr. Li. “Based on our unique patient population, it is ideal to introduce additional equipment to ensure continuity of treatment and encourage referrals within the system.”

The upgraded linear accelerator significantly improves the ability to treat all parts of the body, including cancers of the brain, lung, liver, prostate, lymph nodes, and spine, by using radiosurgery. (Note that, despite its name, radiosurgery is not a surgical procedure and involves no incisions.)

The new services include:

  • Stereotactic Radiosurgery, a radiation therapy used to treat functional abnormalities and small tumors of the brain. It makes possible precisely targeted radiation in fewer high-dose treatments than traditional therapy.
  • Stereotactic Body Radio Therapy, a radiation therapy that allows the administration of very high doses of radiation, using several beams of various intensities aimed at different angles to precisely target the tumor to ensure that the surrounding tissues receive a low dose.

The $1,136,490 linear accelerator upgrade was funded through a combination of $830,948 from the New York City Council and $305,542 from Health + Hospitals budgeting. This upgrade is a cost-effective alternative to purchasing a brand-new linear accelerator with similar capabilities, which would cost approximately $3.5 million.