VCU Massey Cancer Center Introduces Safer, More Effective Form of Radiation Therapy

Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center has introduced a safer and more effective form of radiation therapy to treat cancer. The Center now offers volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) delivery using the Philips Pinnacle3 SmartArc software to provide radiation treatment for multiple tumor sites, including prostate, head and neck, brain, breast and lung. VCU Massey is the first cancer center in the Richmond area to offer this cutting-edge radiation technique.

VMAT coupled with Philips Pinnacle3 SmartArc software provides a safer and more effective form of radiation therapy than conventional IMRT.

VMAT is a new form of intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) in which the tumor is continuously irradiated while the radiation source rotates 360 degrees around the patient in single or multiple arcs. This technique maximizes and more accurately targets radiation to the tumor site and better protects healthy tissues surrounding the tumor. 

VMAT improves patient safety in a number of ways. Treatment time per radiation session is significantly reduced to 2 to 3 minutes with VMAT as opposed to 10 to 20 minutes with conventional IMRT. Shorter treatment times mean improved patient comfort, which leads to reduced errors in dose delivery since patients are less likely to move when they are comfortable.  

VMAT also decreases the amount of radiation needed to deliver the prescribed dose to the tumor. “The combination of VMAT and SmartArc cuts the radiation produced per treatment to less than half of standard therapy,” said Nesrin Dogan, Ph.D., professor and director of clinical physics at the Department of Radiation Oncology at VCU Massey.
In addition, because VMAT more efficiently uses the radiation beam, secondary radiation is substantially diminished in comparison to conventional IMRT techniques. According to Mitchell Anscher, M.D., professor and Florence and Hyman Meyers Chair of Radiation Oncology at VCU Massey, “VMAT significantly lessens the patient’s whole body radiation exposure, thereby decreasing the risk of radiation-induced secondary cancers.”

“Just as important,” he said, “our highly trained staff at VCU Massey provides multiple levels of quality assurance and state-of-the-art treatment planning to further ensure VMAT is safe and effective.”

About the VCU Massey Cancer Center

VCU Massey Cancer Center is one of only 66 National Cancer Institute-designated institutions in the country that leads and shapes America’s cancer research efforts. Working with all kinds of cancers, the Center conducts basic, translational and clinical cancer research, provides state-of-the-art treatments and clinical trials, and promotes cancer prevention and education. Since 1974, Massey has served as an internationally recognized center of excellence. It offers a wide range of clinical trials throughout Virginia, oftentimes the most trials in the state, and serves patients in Richmond and in four satellite locations. Its 1,000 researchers, clinicians and staff members are dedicated to improving the quality of human life by developing and delivering effective means to prevent, control and ultimately to cure cancer. Visit Massey online at or call 877-4-MASSEY for more information.

About VCU and the VCU Medical Center

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located on two downtown campuses in Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 32,000 students in 211 certificate and degree programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-nine of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University compose the VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see

Jenny Owen
VCU Massey Cancer Center
(804) 628-2111
[email protected]

Categories Cancers