Skip to main content

Upgrading to provide better, quicker care to the community

Marshfield Medical Center-Weston introduces Varian TrueBeam LINAC

share arrow printer bookmark flag

February 5, 2024

WESTON – Radiation treatment for cancer patients just got an upgrade at Marshfield Medical Center-Weston’s radiation oncology department.

The center recently said goodbye to its 18-year-old LINAC (linear accelerator) and said hello to a new Varian TrueBeam LINAC machine.

“A linear accelerator is a type of high energy, megavoltage (MV) (machine), (which) we call photon beams and electron beams for radiation therapy,” Medical Physicist Xuan Hu said.

Though the radiation oncology’s old LINAC was able to deliver the standard of care the center strives to provide, Hu said the new Varian TrueBeam LINAC comes with a variety of new and improved features that make it top-of-the-line for the department’s patients.

Those features include:

  • 2.5 MV imaging, which provides better imaging quality on non-bony structures
  • 6FFF MV energy beam that shortens the delivery time in half
  • IDENTIFY system, a surface management system that saves time on treatment setup for therapists and can trigger the beam off during treatment if the patient moves
  • PerfectPitch 6-DoF couch that achieves submillimeter accuracy to ensure better beam delivery
  • IGRT (image-guided radiation therapy) & CBCT (cone-beam computed tomography systems) were improved, with better quality imaging review software 
  • Triggered imaging, which allows for internal position checks through single kV images during treatment
  • Quick vendor intervention through a highly-integrated system, which allows the vendor to remote in to resolve problems with the LINAC and therefore have a quick turnaround time for any repairs or questions
  • The collimator, which helps shape the beam of radiation, moves faster and therefore shortens overall treatment time

From start to finish, Hu said it typically takes a patient about 15 minutes to receive treatment from the Varian TrueBeam LINAC.

“Normally, treatment itself (happens) in five minutes,” she said. “But all the prep work and (what happens) afterward – and to get them off the table and dressed back up – we normally schedule 15-minute slots.”

Good healing rate

Not only does the Varian TrueBeam LINAC shorten the time of radiation therapy for patients, but Hu said it has also seen “very good healing rates” for certain types of cancer – such as lung cancer.

With the additional energy from the LINAC, Hu said the radiation oncology department can do a special procedure for lung cancer patients known as SBRT, or stereotactic body radiation therapy – a technique that uses targeted radiation to a tumor while minimizing radiation to normal tissue around the area.

“(It is an) effective way of treatment,” she said. “It’s a quick beam, so it cuts down the treatment time, I would say, into one-half for SBRT lung.”

Quality care at home

At Marshfield Medical Center, Hu said it’s important for patients to get the best care quickly and efficiently, and to disrupt their lives as little as possible.

“(Having the Varian TrueBeam LINAC) cuts out the travel,” she said. “I’ve had some friends in town telling me in the old days, they all had to go to Mayo Clinic (for treatment), and that’s quite a lot of travel.”

If patients have daily treatment – with some treatments lasting upward of two months – Hu said, they would have to take off work and find a hotel or apartment to rent while receiving treatment.

“To do all that is to stop your life for too long,” she said. “But here, because it’s local, a lot of our patients are still working… so it’s a great convenience for patients.”

And having access to local care, she said, cuts the excess costs of staying in a hotel, gas and other logistics when traveling.

Though other larger metropolitan areas also offer the Varian TrueBeam LINAC as a form of cancer treatment, Hu said it’s important to remember “the same machine delivers the same treatment.”

“I had a friend from overseas (who) came and took a tour of our department, and they were surprised (to see) a top-of-the-line linear accelerator in such a rural area,” she said. “We provide the same top-of-the-line cancer care for (patients) as if they were anywhere else in the world.”

Other locations within Marshfield Clinic Health System that now have the Varian TrueBeam linear accelerator include:

  • Marshfield Medical Center-Dickinson
  • Marshfield Medical Center-Eau Claire Cancer Center
  • Marshfield Medical Center
  • Marshfield Medical Center-Minocqua
  • Marshfield Medical Center-Rice Lake
  • Marshfield Medical Center-River Region Stevens Point

To learn more about Marshfield Medical Center-Weston’s new Varian TrueBeam LINAC, visit

share arrow printer bookmark flag

Trending View All Trending