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Baton Rouge General Adds New Life-saving Cancer Technology

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Baton Rouge General’s Pennington Cancer Center will celebrate the arrival of its new treatment technology with a ribbon cutting and open house on Tuesday, Sept. 13 from 5-7 p.m. The VitalBeam®, by Varian Medical Systems, was recently installed after a year-long upgrade project to the cancer center’s treatment technology. It treats a wide range of cancers and represents the best technology available to patients in the Baton Rouge area. Radiation therapy, which uses high doses of radiation to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells, is part of the treatment plan for more than half of people diagnosed with cancer.

The newest linear accelerator joins three others within BRG’s Pennington Cancer Center. In an effort to continuously grow with the latest technology and equipment, the center’s Varian TrueBeam linear accelerator was upgraded in October with the newest treatment capabilities.

This means greater precision for radiation treatment delivery and greatly reduced treatment times with Hyperarc® technology. For patients with brain lesions that require radiation treatments, for example, the new Hyperarc technology is creating an impact. With previous technology, it would have taken about 30-45 minutes to treat each lesion, and only one lesion could be treated at a time. Patients had to endure hours of treatment and lots of visits. Now, the team at Pennington Cancer Center can treat multiple lesions all at the same time and in as little as 7 minutes. The precision and speed capabilities of the technology spares the maximum amount of normal tissue and results in less treatment side effects.

The upgrade project was made possible in part through the BRG Foundation’s RISE campaign, which raised $10 million for the hospital and its patients. Pennington Cancer Center in recent years has also added a new PET CT scanner for the most advanced diagnostic imaging and new Savi Scout technology that makes lumpectomies more successful.

“More than 4,000 patients are diagnosed with cancer in the Baton Rouge area every year, with nearly 40% of residents expected to develop cancer in their lifetime,” said Erik Showalter, president of the BRG Foundation. “This life-saving technology at Pennington Cancer Center is something that not many hospitals in the country are using, and we are honored that our community continues to support us in the belief that people shouldn’t have to leave home to get the very best care.”

Opened in 1987, the Pennington Cancer Center was the first accredited cancer program in Baton Rouge. It was named after the Pennington family in 2006, after The Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation’s generous donation allowed BRG to be the first in the country to purchase the Artiste linear accelerator, the most advanced treatment option at the time and the only one in North America.

BRG was Louisiana’s first accredited comprehensive breast center and is the only certified Lymphedema Treatment Center in the state. Pennington Cancer Center was the first in Louisiana to use a new radioactive drug therapy that targets neuroendocrine tumors and an innovative technology that helps patients with prostate cancer avoid some of the negative effects of radiation therapy. Pennington Cancer Center is also home to The Healing Boutique, a first-of-its-kind retail shop offering supplies and resources for both men and women with all types of cancer.

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About Baton Rouge General Medical Center
Baton Rouge General Medical Center is the area’s first community hospital with over 600 licensed beds between three campuses. Baton Rouge General opened its doors in 1900, and has provided the Greater Baton Rouge community with high-quality healthcare for generations. An accredited teaching hospital since 1991, Baton Rouge General is affiliated with several medical school programs, and offers other medical education programs, including a School of Nursing, School of Radiologic Technology, Family Medicine Residency Program, Internal Medicine Residency Program, and Sports Medicine Fellowship Program. For more information, visit, find us on Facebook at and follow us on Twitter @BRGeneral and Instagram @batonrougegeneral.