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Sanford Health: Clinic gets new system for radiation therapy

Christiansen Industrial Developers Inc. riggers Ted Westgaard, left, and Chad Crowson help a crane operator lower a 10,000 pound gantry unit of a linear accelerator into Sanford Health Friday morning. The section of the clinic's roof was designed to be removed to allow installation of new equipment. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

When the Trilogy Linear Accelerator is fully functional in March, radiation therapy patients at Sanford Health-Bemidji can cut their treatment times from 20 minutes to two to five minutes per session.

Shorter treatments are just one of the advantages of the new radiation therapy system delivered by crane Friday to Sanford Health.

Lindsey Wangberg, Sanford Health marketing manager for Bemidji, said the building was constructed with three 3-foot-thick concrete roof panels designed as a removable hatch to allow delivery of large equipment, such as the 24,000-pound linear accelerator, that couldn't fit through doors.

Wangberg said the $2.5-$3 million linear accelerator delivers radiation to patients for treatment of benign and malignant lesions throughout the body.

Because the radiation delivery is quicker and more precise than that provided by the radiation therapy the clinic previously used - a Varian 2100C - patients receive treatment with less discomfort and fewer side effects.

Because the new system won't be ready for use for about two months, Sanford Health takes patients receiving radiation therapy daily by charter bus to the Roger Maris Cancer Treatment Center in Fargo, N.D.

Wangberg said the new Trilogy system will allow patients to receive treatment locally with the most advanced technology, part of Sanford's commitment to extend Bemidji as a healthcare hub.

According to a press release from Sanford, the Trilogy Linear Accelerator employs a rapid arc system for precise shape, angle and dose rate delivery. The system also targets tumors precisely to protect normal tissue to increase the probability of tumor control without complications.