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Measuring ERE with Gel Dosimeter

Radiotherapy treatment has continued to make huge progress especially after the introduction of MRI guidance systems. Although there are many advantages to this, there are unfortunately still obstacles that researchers are trying to understand more clearly such as the fact that in a high-field MR-linac, a strong magnetic field causes hot and cold dose spots which are better known as electron return effect (ERE). This specific phenomenon causes secondary electrons that enter a region of low density to be redirected back toward a high-density region that in turn creates larger dose into denser tissue. A scientific team has been experimenting with two Fricke gels to address this ERE issue. To learn more about this research, the article explains their process in the experiment and what research findings are showing to improve this issue in further radiotherapy treatments. 

Treating Cancer with External Beam Radiation

Cancer treatment has continued to evolve with new technology and knowledge on new innovative techniques to increase the effectiveness with fewer treatments needed. External beam radiation therapy is a form of treatment that aims radiation from a machine called a linear accelerator. The beam of radiation is aimed at a targeted area where tumor cells are found. This type of radiation therapy is a local treatment and treats the specific area in a person’s body such as lungs and not their entire body. There are several options when using external beam radiation therapy with all the same goal to deliver the highest dose of prescribed radiation to a tumor while protecting the surrounding tissue. Below each treatment type is explained more in detail.

3D conformal radiation therapy

This type of technique is a common option in radiation therapy in which it uses images from CT, MRI, and PET scans to create a precise plan for the treatment area. The process allows doctors to sculpt radiation beams to the shape of a tumor and often used in instances where the tumor is oddly shaped or if the tumor lies close to healthy tissue/ organs. The radiation beams can then be directed at the target from several angles as needed.

Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)

Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is an advanced type of 3-D conformal radiation therapy to treat cancer and noncancerous tumors. IMRT is used by multiple small photons and proton beams aimed at targeted tumor cells with varied, controlled intensity. During each treatment, the beam shape and the beam strength will continue to change to give higher doses to certain parts of the tumor as needed. Due to the greater level of accuracy, IMRT is a possible treatment option for patients that may have reached the maximum allowable dose from conventional radiation therapy with reoccurring tumors.

Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT)

Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) is a form of IMRT. What sets this type of treatment apart from IMRT is that it not only uses imaging scans before radiation sessions begin but also uses them during the actual radiation therapy session. Tumors can shift inside the body due to breathing or other body movements that can sometimes be hard to control. IGRT allows doctors to locate and track tumors during the procedure to deliver more precise radiation therapy. Technical adjustments can be made by the radiation oncologists when the tumor moves outside of the targeted area helping to limit radiation exposure that could damage healthy tissues nearby and decrease common radiation side effects.

As an independent LINAC service company, Acceletronics is dedicated to delivering the best equipment performance and services for linear accelerators and CT scanners across all major brands and models, as well as new and refurbished LINAC systems for sale.  More information can be found online at https://www.acceletronics.com/.

Cancer Treatments Future with Proton Beam Therapy

Two of the most common cancer treatments on the market are the conventional forms of radiotherapy and chemotherapy but there are two other types that are making progress for more possibilities in the future called proton beam therapy and immunotherapy. Advancement in medical equipment that is becoming more readily available is making these options more of a reality for many patients seeking treatment. Proton beam therapy is like radiotherapy in which energy beams of particles are targeted on a patient in the area where the tumor is located but it differs by using protons instead of photons or x-rays. In current treatments, the use of the MR-Linac machines has been successfully able to locate the position of the tumor and increase the doses in treatment due to higher efficiency. Once the technology becomes available for proton beam therapy, healthcare is expecting to see a large decline of waiting times for treatments to be performed. Although it is expected to still take quite some time until this new treatment to be available for the private healthcare and even public, when it is finally ready it gives great hopes for making cancer treatments easier, less costly, and more survivable.

To read more about proton beam therapy in a recent article, click here

Consideration When Buying A Linear Accelerator

Purchasing a new Linear Accelerator can be a very costly investment that can range between $1 million and upwards to over $5 million. This cost alone is not the only expected fees associated with this equipment since delivery charges and secondary equipment such as a simulator, treatment planning computer, the treatment room itself, and the compensation for the radiographers/ physicist salaries. There is a lot of options to consider when replacing or installing new radiotherapy equipment and a few helpful tips below may help make the decision process a little simpler.

The Resale Value

Before purchasing any new or refurbished linear accelerator, it is important to ask yourself the question “How much will my Linac system be worth if choosing to replace or upgrade it in the future?” The answer to this may affect your company’s ability to purchase equipment in the future so the best way to solve this is by three other factors. First is obsolescence, this factor will greatly impact the long-term maintenance of any equipment. As parts continue to get older, replacement parts will become more and more difficult to locate for obsolete equipment. This also will make service personal harder to find as well since they will not be as familiar with repairs on older machines. Research the manufacturing company and choose one that has been in business for a decent amount of time, If you feel the company will not be around in the next ten years it will most likely not have very good resale value.

Re-licensing Fees

When shopping for a new linear accelerator, if a machine requires new relicensing it will become more costly to a buyer hence making it less attractive for purchase. Providing the license on the equipment will increase the demand which will, in turn, make it have a higher resale value as well. Company’s such as Varian and Elekta have always had higher resale value because of the licensing fees/ software and relocation charges being less than their competitors.

Technology Reimbursements

The centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services utilize reimbursement rates to entice clinicians to accept the use of new, proven treatment for the future. For example, several years ago when CMS code 77421 was released, image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) became widely accepted and hundreds of linear accelerators were upgraded, therefore. A linear accelerator that has the technology to benefit from higher reimbursement rates which certainly affect the price of a machine in the market of used equipment. Systems that use IMRT, IGRT, and CBCT technology will lead more than machines without these capabilities. The future can be a mystery when attempting to predict which technologies will be reimbursed in the following years but company’s such as Varian and Elekta have a long history of systems that have the possibility for upgrades which has helped them increase in value on used products.

As an independent LINAC service company, Acceletronics is dedicated to delivering the best equipment performance and services for linear accelerators and CT scanners across all major brands and models, as well as new and refurbished LINAC systems for sale.  More information can be found online at https://www.acceletronics.com/.

China Tax Exempts Radiation Equimpent From US Trade

Great news has come for manufacturers Varian, Accuray, and Elekta this week when China added medical linear accelerators to a list of 16 items that are exempt from the trade war that is currently happening with the U.S. Both parties are continuing to negotiate terms this week. In the article president & CEO of Varian, Dow Wilson shows gratitude with statement “Varian envisions a world without fear of cancer and we are committed to empowering our users to achieve new victories against cancer with our cancer care solutions. The exemption allows us to continue to focus on the fight against cancer.” In July, the U.S exempted other categories of medical devices such as surgical, radiotherapy and dental from the 25% tariff applied to Chinese goods. The article concluded with the list of the 16 additional items that are exempt from the tariff tax as well. This recent decision will allow cancer treatment and other cancer solutions to continue to progress and save millions of lives in the near future.

Adaptive Radiation Therapy Could Be the Answer for Future Cancer Treatment

Throughout history dating back to the early 1970’s patients diagnosed with cancer would receive standard treatment plans that would simply be based off the type of cancer, the stage of aggression and if it was characterized by spreading to other locations or not. Cancer development teams quickly learned that this procedure was not an efficient process for treatment. A cancer cure is not a one size fits all and each patient is unique so why should their treatment be any different? One form of radiation treatment that is showing progress and good promise for the future is called adaptive therapy. This type of treatment takes a personalized approach where a patient’s unique characteristics are taken into consideration and adjustments are constantly being done based on information taken from images that are taken daily so factors like tumor size, shape, and location will be targeting more efficiently. On the downside, adaptive therapy has many obstacles that are needed to overcome before this treatment can be a successful option. In this article, it is discussed further on which steps will need to be taken for adaptive therapy to continue to progress to its potential. It may not a perfect treatment method currently, but it represents something bigger for the future of healthcare and personalized abilities.