SUBMITTED BY CENTURA HEALTH
Unless you or someone close has received radiation therapy, you may be surprised to learn that tattoos are part of many cancer treatments. Traditionally, permanent skin marks are tattooed on a patient to align radiation treatment – until now. Porter, Parker and Littleton Adventist Hospitals and Longmont United Hospital are the first in Colorado to incorporate the new cutting-edge technology that uses 3D imaging to map the skin surface and guide radiation treatment without visible skin marks.
The technology is called AlignRT, part of the VisionRT system, and in addition not requiring tattoos, it saves time, improves efficiency and has greater accuracy than traditional radiation therapy devices.
“At Centura Health, providing tattooless radiation therapy is one way we can reduce anxiety and help patients focus on other aspects of their cancer care or survivorship,” said Dr. Rebekah Maymani, a radiation oncologist with Porter Adventist. “AlignRT’s imaging capability also helps track movement, which allows for a safer and more accurate treatment.”
Several hospitals in California have incorporated this technology and studies have shown that skin marks pose a significant psychosocial challenge for some women living with breast cancer (See attached study). Additionally, there are numerous companies and tattoo artists that specialize in either removing the skin marks or transforming them into more meaningful tattoos for cancer survivors.
Depending on the type and location of the cancer, traditional radiation therapy devices can require numerous tattooed marks on different parts of a patient’s body.
“For many patients, skin marks are visible reminders of a difficult time in their lives. It’s a wonderful feeling to tell new patients that tattoos are no longer a part of their treatment plan,” added Maymani.
“When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I had friends tell me I may have to be tattooed for the treatment,“ said Ann Marie Scott, a current patient at Porter Adventist Hospital. “At the time, you’re willing to do whatever is needed to overcome cancer, but it was a tremendous relief when my oncologist at Porter told me they no longer need to tattoo patients.”
VisionRT also produces a facial recognition device that matches prescription oncology care with a specific patient. Parker Adventist Hospital is the first and only hospital in the nation to currently offer the facial recognition device.