The UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center is ushering in a new era in therapeutic care for cancer patients with the unveiling of the first of two matching Elekta Versa high-definition (HD) linear accelerators, which are also known as “linacs.”

Richard Valicenti and Versa Blue
Richard Valicenti and Versa Blue

Versa Blue, as it is called by the Department of Radiation Oncology, is ideal for treating tumors that are hard to reach, prone to move, or next to vital organs. The high-tech machine targets tumors with fewer radiation sessions than existing technology while minimizing side effects for cancer patients.

The high-energy X-ray system was put into operation in June. Its 3D and 4D imaging technology locates tumors so precisely that the high doses of therapeutic radiation that it guides leave nearby healthy tissue completely untouched.

“What makes this linear accelerator different is that clinicians can use what we call a ‘six degrees of freedom couch’ that aligns the patient so that we can dial in a tumor target and treat it precisely with the radiation beam,” said Richard Valicenti, chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology.

“This is a very exciting expansion to our stereotactic radiation therapy program, and we are thrilled to offer it to Northern California.”

The innovative technology uses software that matches intense radiation beams to the size and shape of tumors, tailoring treatment with the highest levels of mapping, accuracy and precision. Versa Blue is the most advanced treatment platform available and is expected to improve outcomes for patients treated at the cancer center.

As a reflection of UC Davis’ blue and gold colors, a second “twin” Elekta Versa HD linac, named Versa Gold, is expected to begin operating by the end of the year. Together, the matched advanced-technology linear accelerators will enable patients to be treated in either room, thereby increasing our capacity to deliver highly precise, accurate and targeted radiation therapy.

“We expect these new machines to improve patient treatments and, especially patient comfort and healing, since the therapeutic radiation doses can be pinpointed in such a way that it greatly avoids affecting surrounding tissue areas,” Valicenti added.