Understanding How Radiation Therapy Works

Many patients going through radiation therapy don’t truly understand how their tumors are shrunk or the cancer cells killed.  It is a complex procedure that many physicians are not able to simplify for patience just learning they have cancer.  It is a term that is commonly tossed out in the treatment plan of various cancers; it is crucial that individuals understand exactly what the treatment they are being prescribed will look like.  In this ongoing series on radiation therapy we will continue to look into the answers to questions many patients and loves ones are asking.

How does radiation kill cancer cells and shrink tumors using various radiation therapy and different techniques?

In radiation therapy the actual DNA of the cancer cells and tumors is damaged.  DNA refers the combination of unique molecules each of us is made from.  The molecules are carried within the cells.  The cells are actually carrying the genetic information, or molecules, that we pass between generations.  Individuals are created from a combination of cells that carry the molecules that carry our unique database of genetics; this genetic database is what radiation therapy is in charge of destroying.

This can occur in two different ways.  Radiation therapy can damage DNA directly thus creating a cell that can no longer repair itself or divide leading to the death of the cell.  Once the cell is damaged and dies it is then broken down into the body and naturally eliminated.

How does radiation therapy only kill those cells that are cancerous?

It doesn’t; that is the most truthful answer when someone asks how radiation therapy knows only to damage the cancerous cells.  In truth healthy normal cells can be damaged which leads to unpleasant side effects.  When planning for treatment the damage that can potentially be done to healthy cells is accounted for.

There is a certain amount of radiation that normal, healthy tissue can safely receive before any real side effects are reported.  Each part of the body is different and therefor a different treatment is used as called for.  External radiation using linear accelerator equipment may be used for more sensitive areas where as internal radiation, brachytherapy, is used on areas where tissue is hardier.  Knowing this information allows doctors to specifically target radiation throughout therapy.

From here our next installment will take a deeper look into why doctors chose to use radiation therapy over other treatments for cancer as well as how a plan is individualized to each specific patient.  As in treatment options of many diseases there is not a one size fits all treatment plan for cancer.  Linear accelerator equipment treating cancer through external radiation may work well with patients of a certain age with certain cancers where it would be ineffective for others.  Our next installment will further look into the answers to why and how questions in radiation therapy.

Acceletronics delivers the best equipment performance and service reliability from Linear Accelerators and CT Scanners across all major brands and models.  Our qualified oncology equipment specialists provide a quality customer experience across the USA with timely field maintenance.  We sell, repair, refurbish, move and finance oncology medical systems check out more at http://www.acceletronics.com.

Treating Cancer Using Radiation Therapy Explained

There are many articles that talk about cancer and treatments for cancers.  Many are written in terms that the average person can’t fully comprehend.  This series of articles will discuss radiation therapy and how it is used to treat cancer.  It is difficult to get a cancer diagnosis for you or someone you love only to find that one of the main treatment options needs a medical degree to understand.  That is where articles like this help.

When treating cancer a term that is often used is radiation.  Many people will ask if the patient will be going through chemotherapy, radiation or a combination.  The problem is that the answer that is given is usually a combination or radiation alone but the reality is the patient hardly understands what that means.  Cancer treatments deserve to be spoken about in terms that all patients can understand and explain to their loved ones.

What exactly is radiation therapy?

In order to fully understand radiation therapy it is important to grasp exactly what radiation is.  There are two main definitions of radiation both which apply when discussing radiation therapy.

1)      Radiation is the discharge of energy in waves or the travel of subatomic particles, particles even smaller than an atom itself.  Most often radiation is used to describe ionization, generally speaking the process that an atom takes to form ions.  An ion is an atom that has either a positive or negative charge.  Positive ions are bad and negative ions are good.

2)      Radiation is also used to convey discharge outward from one central location.

In radiation therapy there are multiple types of radiation that can be used to shrink tumors and kill cancerous cells: x-rays, gamma rays and charged (negatively) particles.  High amounts of radiation in any of the three forms is delivered in treatment.

The process of radiation therapy occurs in one of two different methods.  The first method of radiation delivery is with the use of a machine such as a linear accelerator.  A linacs machine delivers radiation outside of the body.  This is known as external (outside) beam radiation therapy; literally a beam of radiation is sent through to the inside of your body.

The second method in which radiation can be delivered through sealed radioactive material that is placed close to the cancerous cells within the body.  This is often referred to as internal radiation therapy or brachytherapy.

Another form of radiation therapy is systemic radiation therapy which distributes radioactive substances that travels through the blood to kill cancerous cells.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer there is a good chance that you will require some form of radiation therapy; in fact fifty percent of cancer patients do receive radiation therapy at one point or another during their treatment plan.  Not all radiation therapy uses linear accelerator equipment in delivery.  There are multiple methods of distributing radiation to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells.

We will further our discussion on radiation therapy for cancer treatments in out next installment.  Patience experiencing radiation therapy deserve to understand in greater detail the treatment they are receiving.

Acceletronics delivers the best equipment performance and service reliability from Linear Accelerators and CT Scanners across all major brands and models.  Our qualified oncology equipment specialists provide a quality customer experience across the USA with timely field maintenance.  We sell, repair, refurbish, move and finance oncology medical systems check out more at http://www.acceletronics.com.

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Important Factors in Working with Linear Accelerator Equipment

Obtaining expensive equipment, such as a linac system, to provide external radiation therapy is a great responsibility for medical facilities.  A linear accelerator is crucial in penetrating increased amounts of x-ray energy to conform tumors to destroy cancer cells while maintaining the adjacent healthy tissue.  An oncologist specializing in radiation therapy will employ techniques to ensure the appropriate treatment.  On account of the expense involved in purchasing linear accelerator equipment there are numerous aspects to think through.

Proprietorship of the Machinery

Most often large equipment is purchased and owned by a group of investors or physicians to provide treatment within a given facility such as a hospital or medical clinic.  For many patients this is important because they can guarantee that the treatment is needed instead of being recommended for the profitability of the procedure.

The fear is that if a linear accelerator is privately owned that the radiosurgery or radiotherapy may be a procedure that is recommended because of the funds it brings in rather than necessity.  When equipment is owned by a group of individuals, people believe it is less likely that radiotherapy is being prescribed because it is the correct procedure for the patient rather than being prescribed for the profit it brings in.

Intensity of the Equipment

The stronger the equipment, the deeper into the individuals tissues it can infiltrate.  The strength of the therapy is not always a direct product of the multiple electron rating of the machine but rather a result of the technique employed to deliver the radiation.

Imaging Tools Being Used

Depending on where the tumor being target is located often determines the imaging tool that is utilized to deliver radiation therapy.  An MRI is the preferred imaging method in targeting a brain tumor.  It provides a view of the inside of the body that is unmatched.  MRI’s show a clear image of the normal tissue in comparison to the brain tumor tissue.

CT Scanning employs x-ray technology to scan tumors.  Bone close to the tumor muddles the clear image produced with CT imaging.  The borders of the tumors are unable to be seen on CT scans.  Details of soft tissues are highly visible on MRI scans over CT scans.

Certain linear accelerator technology can only use CT scanning where as others can blend both MRI and CT images to create a complete and more accurate representation of the tumor.

The Support from a Public Entity

The backing of a public entity is important for medical equipment.  The backing of a public entity means that the equipment has been tested for safety and clinical application.  This ensures that the U.S. SEC standards for financing and ethical standards have been met and that annual reports are obtainable to consumers.  Without public backing technology only need to be approved through the FDA with very little clinical testing.  All that has to be done is that the manufacturer has to state that the equipment is comparable to current technology that already exists within the market.

Acceletronics delivers the best equipment performance and service reliability from Linear Accelerators and CT Scanners across all major brands and models.  Our qualified oncology equipment specialists provide a quality customer experience across the USA with timely field maintenance.  We sell, repair, refurbish, move and finance oncology medical systems check out more at http://www.acceletronics.com.

Radiation Therapies Delivered Using Linear Accelerators

A short expression for Linear Accelerators is Linac.  Radiation is a high powered x-ray that is produced by Linac machines.  These systems are intended to distribute radiation.  If an organization wishes to perform radiosurgery or IMRT (intensity modulated radiation therapy) linear accelerators can be tailored.  To adapt a universal linac system another piece of equipment is often added.

Linac systems can come as either dedicated or non-dedicated machines.

Dedicated linear accelerator equipment includes extra machines that are connected to the radiation couch to perform advanced level treatments.  This is the ideal process to execute a higher level of radiation therapy.

Non-dedicated linac equipment is utilized for more standard radiation treatments.  These machines are not able to obtain the accuracy and precision of dedicated linear accelerators.  For more general radiation therapy this process is used.

Radiosurgery and radiation therapy are both procedures that can be completed using linear accelerator machines.

Radiosurgery is often completed by a radiation oncologist and neurosurgeon in one surgical process.  The process usually is completed in one day following a specific formula that includes immobilization, scans, plans and the actual procedure.   This course of action includes giving radiation in a single dose.  The dose that the tumor is given includes more radiation then it would receive with radiation therapy.

Radiation therapy gives tumors less radiation over a period of time.  The radiation is distributed to a larger area that includes healthy areas.  Treatment usually is done over the course of two to five sessions.

Many professionals argue that radiation therapy offers a more permanent result and fewer side effects then radiosurgery.  The argument is that a smaller dose of radiation delivered over a course of time, instead of one large dose given in one dose, results in greater control of the tumor resulting in better outcomes than are found in radiosurgery.  It is believed that multiple treatments cause less damage to the tissue surrounding the tumor even thought the total amount of radiation is more than the dose given in radiosurgery.  Larger doses of radiation given in a single treatment may permit the tumor to grow.

Cancers in the body and larger brain are more properly targeted using the linac technology that cannot be treated within the one session of a large dose of radiation that radiosurgery performs.  Cancers within the brain better utilize radiosurgery where one session of radiation offers superior treatment results.  Cancers in the brain does not benefit from multiple radiation doses.  Multiple doses can often mean that there is less control and more permanent side effects.

Acceletronics delivers the best equipment performance and service reliability from Linear Accelerators and CT Scanners across all major brands and models.  Our qualified oncology equipment specialists provide a quality customer experience across the USA with timely field maintenance.  We sell, repair, refurbish, move and finance oncology medical systems check out more at http://www.acceletronics.com.

Tips On Purchasing Linear Accelerator Equipment

Medical facilities looking into purchasing Linear Accelerator equipment should budget between one million to upwards of five million dollars.  On top of the cost of radiotherapy equipment also comes with the expense of simulators, treatment planning coordinators, treatment room, machine operating costs, and the salary costs of the radiographers and physicists.  The overall expense is nothing to joke about; whether you are planning to install new equipment, replacing equipment or repairing an existing Linear Accelerator you will want to ensure the purchase stays on track.

Prepare, Plan, Propose

In can take anywhere between six months and eight years from start to finish when it comes to the acquisition of new radiotherapy equipment.  Projects span a duration that varies between facilities.  The first determination is in regards to the type of cases and the technology that is needed to treat patients.  Are you considering new construction or renovating an existing location?  New construction requires local permits, specific room requirements, electrical power and a water supply.  When renovating a room other issues arise such as room size and the location of isocenter as well as shielding.

Plan for milestones such as the vault completion date, equipment testing and acceptance date, when will vendors and IT techs be able to connect your equipment?  When planning for contractors beyond your control work in a margin of error.  It will decrease the number of uncertainties that are beyond your control and possible holdups.  When the clinical issues are decided upon the next step is to come up with a budget for acquiring the equipment and the additional expenses that are expected.

Hire, Educate, Train

It is crucial to have a team of experts on your side when it comes to the acquisition of any new piece of equipment specifically Linear Accelerators.  Experts that are hired on as an expert representing your team should include vault designers, construction firms, equipment suppliers, IT integration and support specialists, and a proven implementation team.  When installing new, used, or refurbished Linear Accelerators speak to vendor references before settling on a team of experts.  Choose a Linear Accelerator vendor that understands software, hardware, and the clinical flow.  A relationship with a supplier that also offers refurbished parts for repairing equipment is especially beneficial to any organization.

Commit To Quality

No matter if a new, used or refurbished piece of equipment is purchased there is a three step process to consider.  Review service history and major service events, machine utilization and an actual physical inspection.  When equipment is refurbished it consists of both cosmetic and mechanical updates.  New technology is crucial and mechanical refurbishment helps to protect against outdated parts and accessories.  The installation team needs to comprehend all aspects of installation from hardware, software to manufacturer’s acceptance testing procedures.

When purchasing any new medical equipment the transition between purchase, installation and service needs to be seamless; expect a long term relationship between the supplier and facility.

Acceletronics delivers the best equipment performance and service reliability from Linear Accelerators and CT Scanners across all major brands and models.  Our qualified oncology equipment specialists provide a quality customer experience across the USA with timely field maintenance.  We sell, repair, refurbish, move and finance oncology medical systems check out more at http://www.acceletronics.com.

Tips To Consider Before Purchasing Diagnostic Imaging Equipment

Are you in the market to replace diagnostic imaging equipment that is out of date or broken down?  Are you looking to purchase the latest and greatest in Linacs systems?  If this describes where you are at it is crucial to purchase the right equipment for your working environment.  When purchasing IMRT Equipment, otherwise known as Intensity-Modulation Radiation Therapy, Linear Accelerators, CT Simulators, or CT Scanner look at pieces that encompass the whole organization including patients and technicians.

Consider the benefits that your organization will gain with the purchase of the new equipment. How will they benefit from the latest, most up to date technology? Does it make sense to replace your 16 slice CT scanner with a 64 slice CT scanner?  Are patient satisfied with 3D images or do they prefer 4D images?  It will totally depend on whether your organization will benefit or not from the purchase of new equipment before making a purchase.  Due diligence, research and fore thought are needed before making a purchase of such magnitude for your facility, patients and employees.  Consider if and how everyone will benefit from the purchase.

Below you will find tips to consider before purchasing diagnostic imaging equipment.

  • Price: No matter if you are purchasing new or refurbished diagnostic imaging equipment the cost is always a consideration.  Consider the initial price, the cost to maintain the piece, the service cost and the accessibility to parts to repair the equipment if it does fail.  Each piece of equipment that you consider to purchase should be evaluated in the same manner to ensure it is properly considered.
  • Environmental Consequences: Within many organizations it is important to not only provide top quality equipment but for it also to be friendly to our environment. When purchasing an imaging piece consider the impact it has on the environment especially if this is of importance within your organization.  The initial cost of equipment that is environmentally friendly may initially cost more however in the long run may cost less than other pieces being that repairs are often cheaper.
  • Treatment: Consider how often and when the equipment will be used. Will the features on this new or refurbished equipment meet the treatment needs that you are in need of it treating?  Does it truly meet the needs to the people in which it will be servicing?
  • Technicians: Consider the level of the skills that the technicians possess.  Will they be able to use the new equipment without much training or support?  Is training online or in person and how much will this cost the organization?  Does the end user feel the piece meets the overall needs of the company?  Meet with the technicians before major purchases within the organization.  They are the ones that truly know what is needed and the impact it will have on their jobs as well as the patients.
  • Service Contract/Technical Support: Establish what is and what is not covered within the service contract. How much support are the end users given when the equipment is not operating properly?  Negotiate all technical support within the initial purchase agreement to be sure that your needs will be properly met after the sale.
  • Repairs, Parts and Access: Another consideration is fixing each piece if it is to break down. Are new parts available?  If not how accessible and reliable are refurbished parts?  What is the budget to maintain this equipment?  How hard is it to diagnosis issues that are occurring? Are the technicians trained to quickly and properly fix and maintain the equipment with what is available to them?

Such large purchases are difficult to make. Organizations, especially those in need of imaging equipment, are not often allowed unlimited budgets.  The cost of such pieces along with maintaining them is always important.  Knowing this information before you make a purchase ensure you have done due diligence in purchasing such a large line item for your company.

Acceletronics is dedicated to delivering the best equipment performance and service reliability from Linear Accelerators and CT Scanners across all major brands and models.  Our highly qualified oncology equipment specialists provide a quality customer experience across the USA with timely field maintenance.  We sell, repair, refurbish, move and finance a variety of oncology medical systems check out more athttp://www.acceletronics.com.

Hickman Cancer Center delighted with Acceletronics care of their Varian TrueBeam® Linear Accelerator

When the Hickman Cancer Center at ProMedica Health System’s Flower Hospital in Sylvania, Ohio entrusted Acceletronics with the care of their Varian TrueBeam® Linear Accelerator, they had a laundry list of things that they were living with which spoiled their enjoyment of their state of the art technology.

As Anita Stolaruk, Director of Oncology observed,

“Acceletronics is dedicated to providing very thorough preventative maintenance and permanent fixes to several of our Linear Accelerators, instead of those Band-Aid fixes. Acceletronics engineers are well trained and very knowledgeable in Varian products ranging from the 21EX, Trilogy, IX to TrueBeam.   What I like most about Acceletronics is they have excellent communication, great professionalism, excellent customer relations and quick responses. Most of all they find the root cause of problems!

Most recently Acceletronics has provided quality support to our newest machine, a Varian TrueBeam. Our TrueBeam had a list of issues when they took it on. Acceletronics took the time to identify, correct all problems, and maintain our TrueBeam equipment to high performance standards. Our TrueBeam is running well with little to no down time so we are able to provide excellent patient care.  I would highly recommend any other TrueBeam owners contact Acceletronics as they provide excellent service.”

Please contact us at 800-626-8704, visit our website at www.acceletronics.com or email us at info@acceletronics.com to learn more about our portfolio of high value Maintenance Contract offerings across the country, including for Varian TrueBeam®.

“Varian” and “TrueBeam” are trademarks of Varian Medical Systems, Inc. Acceletronics, Inc. and affiliates are not affiliated with or sponsored by Varian Medical Systems, Inc. Acceletronics, Inc. and its affiliates are independent of any medical equipment manufacturer.