One of the most exciting developments in the history of radiation therapy was the introduction of intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) in the mid 1990s. Combined with improved early detection and diagnosis capabilities, the implementation of IMRT has resulted in a paradigm shift in the way many cancers are treated. Decreased side effects during and immediately following radiation therapy, combined with the anticipated improved clinical outcomes, have helped to make IMRT a more widely used treatment technique.
In order for doses of radiation to be wrapped around the tumor with precision, as required by IMRT protocols, it has become necessary to pinpoint the exact placement of that tumor within the body better. This has required the radiation oncology department to step out of its normal comfort zone, and to become more interactive with technologies that have traditionally been thought of as belonging to imaging departments.
The use of multimodality imaging is instrumental as the key enabler of a more comprehensive approach to oncology work flow. Information technology plays just as important a role as the images by making all of the patient images and data available when and where needed. Siemens Medical offers comprehensive solutions that encompass information technology, imaging, and therapy in order to address the entire continuum of oncology care best, from screening and diagnosis through treatment and follow-up care.
The reliance of radiation therapy on imaging will only grow as image-guided radiation therapy becomes the basis of innovative and advanced treatments. This integration of diverse imaging technologies in oncology relies heavily on the innovative abilities of companies with strong imaging capabilities. A leader in imaging technology since its first venture into developing vacuum tubes for Roentgen, Siemens is able to claim other important firsts in the imaging world. A pioneer in the development of spiral CT, Siemens introduced the first commercially available combination positron-emission tomography system and CT scanner, the biograph?.
Since the introduction of IMRT, the oncology community has seen a steep curve in innovation. Such innovation cannot come from industry alone; we must rely on the knowledge, experience, and insight provided by our clinical partners worldwide to ensure that we are developing practical, cost-effective equipment solutions to empower clinicians to achieve better patient outcomes.
Ajit Singh, PhD
President, Siemens Oncology Care Systems