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NCH’s nationally recognized cancer program gets transformational technology

November 13, 2018

NCH first in Illinois and Tri-State area to offer Halcyon system

The Halcyon linear accelerator

Medical Physicist Muqeem Qayyum, Ph.D., explains the Halcyon system, advanced technology for cancer patients undergoing radiation treatment in the Radiation Oncology Department at Northwest Community Hospital (NCH).

What is the Halcyon system?

It is the newest linear accelerator from Varian Medical Systems, an industry leader in radiation oncology.

Why did NCH decide to invest in this new technology?

We want to provide our patients with the best treatment options available. This piece of equipment has been redesigned from the ground up. It is faster and more accurate.

How new is it?

The machine was released by Varian Medical Systems in May of 2017. Our machine arrived at NCH on October 13, 2018. Staff is going through training and our go-live date is November 19, 2018.

How is Halcyon superior to standard radiation technology?

The imaging technology has been optimized to improve quality and speed without compromise. The scanning can be done within seconds. The machine allows therapists to be therapists and not button pushers. Previously there were up to 30 steps, but now there are nine. Patients are in and out quicker and treated more effectively.

How is the treatment better?

The Halcyon has been designed with the patient in mind. Its ergonomic design maximizes patient comfort. Its enclosed structure allows for a much quieter operation. The treatment area is larger than a CT scanner and MRI, eliminating the feeling of claustrophobia. It looks like a larger version of a CT scanner, which patients are familiar with. Patients lie down on a table and the table moves in and out through a large donut structure.

What kinds of patients benefit from the Halcyon?

The majority of cancers can be treated using the Halcyon. We will start using it with head and neck, lung and prostate cancer patients and expand to other forms of cancer in the future.

How long does a typical treatment take?

Total treatment times potentially take just half the time as previous technologies – highlighting its power and efficiency as well as Halcyon’s focus on patient comfort and safety.

Do other area hospitals have Halcyon technology?

We’re the first in the state of Illinois and also the first in the Tri-State area to have it installed.

What is the cost of this technology?

The entire project is roughly $5 million. With such a large price tag and limited resources, we have turned to philanthropy to raise at least $3 million of the total so that NCH could acquire this technology as quickly as possible. So far, caring and generous community members have contributed $2.5 million. To join the effort and contribute to this amazing technology at NCH, call the NCH Foundation at 847-618-4260 or visit An update on our progress and a ribbon cutting to recognize and honor our donors will be announced soon.