Freeman News

Freeman Offers Hope Through Pinpoint Treatment

October 06, 2015

Freeman’s newly acquired, top-of-class TrueBeam™ linear accelerator enables doctors to use a radically different approach to treating cancer with image-guided radiotherapy.

JOPLIN, Mo. – Thanks to a generous gift from the Cornell-Beshore families, Freeman Health System Radiation Oncology recently opened at Freeman Hospital East to help patients with even the most difficult-to-treat tumors. Freeman’s newly acquired, top-of-class TrueBeam™ linear accelerator enables doctors to use a radically different approach to treating cancer with image-guided radiotherapy.

The TrueBeam system, from Varian Medical Systems, was engineered from the ground up to deliver powerful cancer treatments with pinpoint accuracy and precision. It uniquely integrates new imaging and motion management technologies within a sophisticated new architecture that makes it possible to deliver faster treatments while monitoring and compensating for tumor motion. This opens the door to new possibilities for the treatment of lung, breast, prostate, head and neck, and other cancers that are treatable with radiotherapy. 

Freeman started treating patients with the new system in July 2015. Benefits to patients include:

  • Less time spent in treatment
  • Exposure to a lower dose of radiation
  • Improved outcomes through precise treatment

“TrueBeam is a real game-changer that will enable our physicians to treat even the most challenging cases with unprecedented speed and precision,” said Paula F. Baker, Freeman President and Chief Executive Officer. “With a broad spectrum of new capabilities, TrueBeam breaks the mold in just about every dimension, making it possible for us to offer faster, more targeted treatments to tumors, even as they move and change over time.

“With the linear accelerator, our physicians can target hard-to-reach cancers with pinpoint accuracy – in fact, our team can actually sculpt the radiation beam to the exact shape of the patient’s tumor,” Baker said. “This enables us to kill cancer cells while minimizing damage to surrounding, healthy tissue. It is one of the most powerful and precise cancer treatment options in the four-state area.”

Faster treatments
With dose delivery rates 40 to 140 percent higher than earlier generations of Varian technology, Freeman’s linear accelerator can complete a treatment commensurately faster. This makes it possible to offer greater patient comfort by shortening treatments and to improve precision by leaving less time for tumor motion during dose delivery. “Intelligent” automation further speeds treatments with an up to five-fold reduction in the number of steps needed for image guidance and dose delivery.  

Simple treatments that once took 15 minutes or more can be completed in less than two after the patient is in position. “The new system significantly reduces treatment time,” said Matthew Miller, DO, Freeman Cancer Institute Medical Director. “Patients will spend a whole lot less time lying still, immobilized on a hard surface.”

Enhanced precision 
The precision of the TrueBeam system is measured in increments of less than a millimeter. This accuracy is made possible by the system’s sophisticated architecture, which synchronizes imaging, patient positioning, motion management, beam shaping and dose delivery, performing accuracy checks every 10 milliseconds throughout the entire treatment. Critical data points are measured continually as treatment progresses, ensuring the system maintains a true isocenter, or focal point, of treatment.

“This technology is important because cancer tumors do not stay in the exact same place after each radiation therapy session,” said Jeffrey Carrier, Freeman Chief Clinical Officer. “When a patient gains or loses weight or experiences other physical changes, organs can shift slightly. So – before each treatment – it’s imperative that physicians identify exactly where cancerous cells end and healthy cells begin.”

For lung and other tumors subject to respiratory motion, TrueBeam offers gated RapidArc® radiotherapy, which makes it possible to monitor patient breathing and compensate for tumor motion while quickly delivering the radiation dose during a continuous rotation around the patient. “During the last decade, lung cancer became the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women in the United States,” Dr. Miller said. “With this new linear accelerator, we can treat a moving lung tumor as if it were standing still. We expect this to make a meaningful difference for lung cancer patients in the area.”

Faster imaging at lower doses
TrueBeam imaging technology reduces the time needed to produce the three-dimensional images used to fine-tune tumor targeting by 60 percent. Additional functionality makes it possible to create these images while reducing the x-ray dose by 25 percent. “Imaging is an essential part of modern-day, targeted radiotherapy,” explained Dr. Miller. “This machine allows us to choose an imaging mode that minimizes the amount of radiation needed to generate an image – and that’s good for our patients.”

Leading the way in cancer care
Freeman Health System has provided comprehensive cancer care – including diagnosis, treatment, lifestyle management and some of the most advanced cancer-fighting tools and therapies available – since 2001. Freeman was able to launch its radiation oncology program thanks to a $3 million gift from the Cornell-Beshore families. In recognition of this generous donation, Freeman Cancer Institute recently became Cornell-Beshore Cancer Institute. It includes facilities on the campuses of both Freeman Hospital West and Freeman Hospital East.

“The Cornell and Beshore families are long-time champions of healthcare in our region, and it’s only fitting that the name honor their legacy,” said Baker. “Together we are dedicated to improving the future for cancer patients across the four-state area.”

Freeman Health System – Celebrating 90 Years of Service
Locally owned, not-for-profit and nationally recognized, Freeman Health System includes Freeman Hospital West, Freeman Hospital East, Freeman Neosho Hospital and Ozark Center – the area’s largest provider of behavioral health services – as well as two urgent care clinics, dozens of physician clinics and a variety of specialty services. In 2014, Freeman earned 90 individual awards for medical excellence and safety from CareChex®, a quality rating system that helps consumers evaluate healthcare providers. U.S. News & World Report ranked Freeman #1 Hospital in Southwest Missouri in 2014-15, and The Leapfrog Group gave Freeman the highest grade possible in the Fall 2014 Hospital Safety Score. With more than 300 physicians on staff representing more than 60 specialties, Freeman provides cancer care, heart and vascular care, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopaedics, children’s services and women’s services. Additionally, Freeman is the only Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in a 70-mile radius. For more information, visit or or follow Freeman President and Chief Executive Officer Paula Baker at #FreemanTurns90