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Varian Medical Systems: Empowering Cancer Treatment with Imaging and Data Analytics

 Tim Fox, AVP, varian medical systems
Oncologists today are often challenged to take advantage of the many advances in both treatment technology and medical imaging in the healthcare sector. Radiation therapy has also witnessed tremendous advancement in the software and imaging tools used to plan and deliver radiotherapy. Capitalizing on this trend, Varian Medical Systems provides imaging and data analytics solutions to help oncologists plan, treat, and manage image-guided radiation therapy. Headquartered in Palo Alto, CA, Varian offers a suite of radiation oncology information system software solutions to help radiation therapy care teams efficiently manage sophisticated processes. “At Varian, we are incorporating imaging along the entire patient continuum from diagnosis to treatment to follow-up,” remarks Tim Fox, Associate Vice President-Imaging Informatics of Varian Medical Systems.

A pioneer in the field of X-ray energy since 1950, Varian recently began offering the Velocity software platform to provide clinicians with a true longitudinal oncology patient record that unifies patient imaging and treatment information acquired from different systems to provide a comprehensive view of the patient’s clinical history. “Before Velocity, a true longitudinal oncology patient record of imaging and treatment could not be performed other than to scrutinize data from different systems side-by-side and perform educated guesses,” says Fox. Using Varian’s solution, cancer care teams create new knowledge to solve complex health problems for cancer patients, and we em¬bed that knowledge for use by next generation clinical practice.

Furthermore, the software enables the use of multi-modality imaging such as MR, PET, CT and SPECT for plan¬ning target volumes and evaluating the response to therapy. As techniques like MR Diffusion Weighted Imaging (DWI) are being investigated for their utility in cancer treatment planning, Varian’s software platforms are designed to enable their use.

“The latest treatment technologies have made it easier to treat smaller tumor volumes such as metastatic tumors with high precision,” explains Fox. “This is called ‘radio surgery,’ and Varian's software platforms allow radiation oncologists to plan and deliver this type of treatment efficiently and accurately.”

We are really focused on knowledge guided oncology, which means powering cancer care teams to make more confident decisions by transforming unconnected data into clinical knowledge.

One of Varian’s innovations is the creation of a clinical knowledge-base to seamlessly collect, integrate, apply and share the massive amount of diagnostic imaging and treatment information assembled while treating cancer patients. Oncologists can improve the quality of treatment by evaluating image data throughout a course of treatment. “For example, Velocity enables oncologists to easily super impose the post-treatment molecular imaging data on the original cancer treatment plan to assess the patient's response to therapy. Before Velocity, there were no tools for this kind of juxtaposition. At best, a clinician could view the data on different systems and try to draw conclusions,” Fox says. Using Varian’s oncology solutions and proton therapy, cancer care providers are now able to contribute to cancer clinical knowledge and help healthcare providers move closer to evidence-creating medicine.

Varian Medical Systems focuses on innovation, supporting clinicians, and simplifying cancer-fighting solutions. “We have a vision of a world without fear of cancer,” says Fox. “We are focused on adding to the world’s knowledge about oncology, and then making that knowledge actionable. To us, that means gathering information that can help oncologists make more confident data-driven decisions,” explains Fox. Fiercely committed towards cultivation of an environment that connects the entire oncology community—“Our goal is to provide cancer treatment professional with access to the expertise, information and technology that enables smart, efficient, and high quality care globally,” Fox concludes.