NEWS | March 31, 2021

Versa Blue brings advanced radiation treatment to cancer patients

High-definition linear accelerator targets tumors quickly and precisely


The UC Davis NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center is ushering in a new era in therapeutic care for cancer patients with the unveiling of the first of two matching Elekta Versa high-definition (HD) linear accelerators, which are also known as “linacs.” 

Richard Valicenti, chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology, stands in front of Versa Blue, the latest advancement in HD linear accelerators. Richard Valicenti, chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology, stands in front of Versa Blue, the latest advancement in HD linear accelerators.

Versa Blue, as it is called by the Department of Radiation Oncology, is ideal for treating tumors that are hard to reach, prone to move, or next to vital organs. The high-tech machine targets tumors with fewer radiation sessions than existing technology while minimizing side effects for cancer patients. 

The high-energy x-ray system was put into operation on this month. It uses 3D and 4D technology for image guidance to locate tumors before applying high doses of therapeutic radiation with such precision that it leaves nearby healthy tissue completely untouched. 

“What makes this linear accelerator different is that clinicians can use what we call a ‘six degrees of freedom couch’ that aligns the patient so that we can dial in a tumor target and treat precisely with the radiation beam,” said Richard Valicenti, chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology. “This is a very exciting expansion to our stereotactic radiation therapy program and we are thrilled to offer it to Northern California.” 

The innovative technology uses software that matches intense radiation beams to the size and shape of tumors, tailoring treatment with the highest levels of mapping, accuracy and precision. The Versa Blue treatment provides the most advanced platform available and is expected to improve outcomes for patients treated at the cancer center. 

A second “twin” Elekta Versa HD linac, named Versa Gold, will be installed this summer and is expected to begin operating in October. Together, the matched advanced-technology linear accelerators will provide exceptional service with specifications that allow patients to be treated in either room; enhancing the capacity at the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center to deliver highly precise, accurate, and targeted radiation therapy. 

“We expect these new machines to improve patient treatments and, especially patient comfort and healing, since the therapeutic radiation doses can be pinpointed in such a way that it greatly avoids affecting surrounding tissue areas,” added Valicenti.

UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute-designated center serving the Central Valley and inland Northern California, a region of more than 6 million people. Its specialists provide compassionate, comprehensive care for more than 15,000 adults and children every year and access to more than 150 active clinical trials at any given time. Its innovative research program engages more than 225 scientists at UC Davis who work collaboratively to advance discovery of new tools to diagnose and treat cancer. Patients have access to leading-edge care, including immunotherapy and other targeted treatments. Its Office of Community Outreach and Engagement addresses disparities in cancer outcomes across diverse populations, and the cancer center provides comprehensive education and workforce development programs for the next generation of clinicians and scientists. For more information, visit