A Canberra cancer patient has become the first person in the Australian Capital Territory to be treated with advanced radiation therapy at Icon Cancer Centre Canberra using Varian’s HyperArc™, a new cutting-edge hyper-targeted radiation therapy treatment for multiple brain tumours.
54-year-old Canberra local Yuhua Shi was first diagnosed with Stage III invasive breast cancer in 2015 after noticing a lump in her left breast. Yuhua went on to receive a mastectomy, four and a half months of chemotherapy and four weeks of radiation therapy and was delighted to learn she had gone into remission.
Unfortunately, four years later the discovery of a lump in her neck led to devastating news – the cancer had returned and spread to her lymph nodes. Her next round of treatment involved 15 months of chemotherapy at Icon Cancer Centre Canberra, before Yuhua and her family learned her cancer had spread again in September 2020, this time to her brain.
“During my chemotherapy treatment I started to get headaches that wouldn’t go away with painkillers. I spoke to my oncologist who decided to do an MRI, and we found out the cancer had progressed to my brain. It was so shocking and unbelievable. When I started my first treatments in 2015, I was quite confident that my treatment was going to cure me. To learn it had spread twice was even harder to take, especially being told I have cancer in my brain and don’t have much longer to live. I was hoping I would be the lucky one,” Ms Shi said.
Yuhua was able to rapidly access cutting-edge radiation therapy treatment using HyperArc™ technology at Icon Cancer Centre Canberra and became the first person in the ACT to be treated using this advanced technology, with just three treatments delivered over one week. HyperArc™ utilises the features of the Varian machine that delivers radiation therapy (TrueBeam linear accelerator) to accurately deliver precise radiation therapy to multiple brain tumours with greater efficiency, speed, accuracy and patient comfort, while limiting doses to surrounding healthy brain tissue.
Icon Cancer Centre were the first to introduce HyperArc in Australia in 2018 and have continued to redefine the treatment of people with advanced cancer, now treating up to 18 brain lesions at a time, something unheard of 10 years ago.
“HyperArc, a form of stereotactic radiation therapy, is helping us support people with advanced cancer to live longer and with a better quality of life. Prior to the availability of stereotactic brain radiation therapy, patients would face longer and less precise treatment with significantly more side effects, which could be debilitating. HyperArc technology turns this on its head and delivers a higher dose of radiation directly to the tumours in a short period of time, with a relatively low impact on quality of life. With the introduction of HyperArc to the ACT, more patients with a diagnosis like Yuhua can access stereotactic radiation therapy in their home town. This means that patients can receive treatment that will extend their life while spending time doing what they love, without the stress of travel during this difficult time,” Icon Radiation Oncologist Dr Lisa Sullivan said.
HyperArc can efficiently deliver treatment to multiple tumours in just a few minutes through one automated setup, compared with other systems which require multiple setup points and the need for treatments to stop and start, meaning patients are on the treatment bed for longer. For Yuhua, receiving advanced treatment so quickly was reassuring and comforting in her time of need.