Case Studies

Providing World-Class Cancer Care to Patients in Italy


UPMC Partners with San Pietro Fatebenefratelli Hospital to Develop an Advanced Radiotherapy Center of Excellence

Recognizing the need for an advanced cancer care facility to treat patients in the Lazio region of Italy, the San Pietro Fatebenefratelli (FBF) Hospital in Rome sought a partner to help it develop, manage, and operate a radiotherapy center of excellence. UPMC, already known for providing world-class care in Sicily, emerged as the right collaborator to bring the project to life, taking care of staffing, marketing, design and construction consulting, and information technology (IT) integration for the new Center.

Once open, the UPMC San Pietro FBF Advanced Radiotherapy Center became the first in the region to offer advanced therapies including stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), a precisely-delivered, high-dose radiation. The Center redefined cancer care in the region, giving patients access to innovative and effective treatments close to home.

San Pietro Fatebenefratelli Hospital Seeks to Advance Oncology Care in Rome

San Pietro Hospital — a 500-bed hospital located in the northwest of Rome — belongs to the Fatebenefratelli (FBF) Congregation, a Catholic entity that owns and operates more than 300 facilities worldwide. The facility, which treats both public and private patients, has been recognized as a radiotherapy leader in Rome since it opened the city’s first linear accelerator capable of providing conformational radiotherapy (3D-CRT) in 1996.

Despite its success and the inclusion of intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) among its services in 2009, San Pietro Hospital leadership understood the need to continue to develop and offer increasingly advanced radiotherapy services. While the hospital was treating approximately 800 radiotherapy patients per year, it was referring around 100 patients to other centers in the country for more advanced treatments, such as SRS and RapidArc® technique, a form of IMRT.

At the time, there were no state-of-the-art SRS centers in Rome or the surrounding regions. In fact, there were just four SRS centers in all of northern Italy. The nearest center to which San Pietro Hospital could refer its oncology patients was in Milan, more than 350 miles (575 km) away.

Further encouragement to advance San Pietro’s radiotherapy services came from Italy’s health minister, who was advocating the use of new technologies as a means to support quality of care, improve patient access and outcomes, and reduce costs. SRS and RapidArc® techniques would meet these objectives by allowing larger daily doses of radiation to be delivered rapidly while remaining minimally invasive, which means shorter treatment times and fewer side effects for patients.

UPMC Provides Resources, Management, and Operational Support to the New Center

UPMC and San Pietro Hospital entered into a partnership with the goal of developing, managing, and operating an advanced radiotherapy center of excellence in Rome while improving the overall quality of their Radiotherapy Department. From the outset, the collaboration aimed to fill an unmet need for state-of-the-art cancer care in the region, while also improving outcomes and supporting the local economy.

The hospital and surrounding community benefited from the partnership through intensive staff training that took place at the Center, which allowed for implementation and improvement of professional skills in their own environment. In addition to hiring 15 new employees, this training leveraged treatment quality and patient safety between the hospital radiotherapy department and the new Center.

“During my training at UPMC Shadyside Hospital, I had the opportunity to learn about new and advanced technology and much more. I became familiar with the Cone Beam CTs to check patients’ setup, the flattening filter-free photon beams for quicker and more efficient treatment, and gating with the real-time position management system,” said a UPMC San Pietro FBF radiation therapist who received specialized training in Pittsburgh.

UPMC took care of the staffing, marketing, design and construction, and IT integration of the Center, as well as a number of management and operational offerings.

The UPMC San Pietro FBF Advanced Radiotherapy Center Brings World-class Cancer Care to Patients

In 2013, the UPMC San Pietro FBF Centro di Radioterapia ad Alta Specializzazione (Advanced Radiotherapy Center) in Rome officially opened. For the first time, patients in the Lazio region and surrounding areas of Italy had access to one of the fastest, most precise, and most advanced radiosurgery and radiotherapy techniques available. With new state-of-the-art technology, the Center has been able to provide patients access to advanced medical treatments without having to travel far outside of their communities. The Center offers patients access to one of the most advanced linear accelerators in the world, a Varian Truebeam™ STx, meant for difficult-to-treat or otherwise untreatable tumors and other abnormal masses.

“Bringing this level of world-class cancer care to the region through the Center at San Pietro accomplished many of the aims that put our partnership in motion: increasing the quality of care, reducing complications, and most importantly, giving more patients access to innovative and effective treatments close to home,” said Bruno Gridelli, MD, CEO of ISMETT and executive vice president of UPMC International.

UPMC San Pietro FBF Advanced Radiotherapy Center continues to increase awareness and disseminate knowledge on advancements in radiotherapy through educational opportunities and symposiums. The third annual UPMC International Symposium on Radiosurgery and Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy, was held in 2015 in San Pietro, and featured attendance by health care professionals from across Italy, including radiation oncologists, medical physicists, radiation therapists, surgeons, and medical oncologists, as well as researchers. The symposium increased the awareness and disseminated knowledge on the potentials, indications, and techniques of intracranial SRS and extra-cranial SBRT at a time when an expansion of SRS/SBRT activity is spreading across Europe.

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