High-tech cancer treatment available in Alamance County

BURLINGTON, N.C. -- The giant rotating device and the adjustable couch looks like something out of a science fiction movie. But the benefits of the TrueBeam system are very real.

"I've been in this field for 30 years and I have seen a revolution in how we treat patients," Dr. Glenn Chrystal said.

Chrystal is a radiation oncologist at Cone Health Cancer Center at Alamance Regional. Chrystal and other medical professionals like Medical Physicist Caroline Vanderstraeten are thrilled that the latest high-tech cancer treatment device is in Alamance County.

"I think it's really important that we have it here so we can automate our treatments make them faster and accurate," Vanderstraeten said. "And I think that's what patients deserve. Very excited to give that to them."

The $5 million TrueBeam system is normally found in large hospitals and research centers. So to have it here in Alamance County is a big deal. The system uses high-energy radiation and targets cancer cells that are as small as a grain of sand, reducing the number of cancer treatments and leaving nearby healthy cells unharmed.

"This new technology really makes it easy for patients to get through a course of treatment with very little problems or side effects," Dr. Chrystal said. "This helps us because we have less to manage and we are more effective in taking care of their cancers."

The system and couch glides across the room, reaching cancer cells anywhere in the body. Vanderstraeten said the automated device is an improvement over moving the patient by hand.

"Now with a push of the button, we can automatically correct for the patient setup and get them exactly where we need them to be and go ahead and treat them. So it's a significant time savings," Vanderstraeten said.

In most cases the high-tech cancer treatment is a time saver for patients. They spent less time in the hospital and, according to Cone Health Chief Physcist BJ Sintay, patients can spend more time at home.

"Patients can leave, the treatment which is rather pain free, you can't feel radiation and go home," Sintay said.

And for folks getting cancer treatment at Cone Health Cancer Center at Alamance Regional, Alamance County is home.