Fighting Cancer With External Radiotherapy

There are several questions that come along with a cancer diagnosis. One of the first questions that patients ask is regarding the treatment of their newly diagnosed cancer.  Patients want to know how they are going to rid their body of cancer.  The answer most often, external radiotherapy.

External radiation, radiotherapy is treatment of cancer using a machine known as a linear accelerator to directly aim radiation beams to the cancerous tumors from outside the body.  These beams are meant to shrink and/or destroy the cancerous tumor without harming the healthy tissue surrounding it.  This is different from internal radiotherapy where radiation is delivered to the cancerous tumor within the body.

Radiotherapy works through a process of damaging the DNA that exists within the cancer cells.  A patient’s personal DNA, which is genetic, is the code that controls how a patient’s body will behave during treatment.

Before a patient starts treatment their team of experts will create a plan and introduce it to the patient.  It will include several elements including the short and long terms side effects of radiation.  Most side effects are short terms and will disappear with medication and time. 

Radiation therapy begins with a wide range of tests.  These often include:

  • X-Rays
  • CT Scans
  • MRI’s
  • PET Scans

These scans and images will allow experts to develop a treatment plan that allows the highest dose of radiation to the cancer while trying to reduce the effects to the healthy tissues surrounding it.

When you are set to receive external radiotherapy you will have treatment in a radiotherapy department.  Radiotherapy machines are large and can vary.  The most common machine in delivering radiation is known as a linear accelerator, LINAC.  A linear accelerator uses an electricity to create the beams of radiation.  Patients will not feel the radiation that a LINAC gives off. There are possible side effects however these are rare. 

Radiation therapy works because it can treat the cancerous cells and the bordering healthy tissues without harm.  A high dose of therapy is given directly to the cancer and lower dose to the surrounding tissues.

Radiation is delivered in individual fractions that are smaller than the full dose.  This ensures that the healthy cells surrounding the cancer to recover between treatments.  Patients will have what is known as a series of smaller dose treatments which is known as radiotherapy fractions.

Radiotherapy is intended to relieve the symptoms of cancer including pain.  This is known as a type of palliative radiotherapy, fewer fractions and sometimes just one.  The radiotherapy dose with each radiotherapy fraction is larger but there are fewer fractions.  Overall the radiotherapy dose is lower.  Palliative treatment has a decrease in side effects and is used as a cure for cancer. 

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/.



Maintaining Large Scaled Medical Equipment While Cutting Costs


The pressure is high for the leaders of medical facilities to keep up on the changing technology of medical equipment, improve the quality of patient care, and reduce costs of medical equipment maintenance and care. Creating a cost saving strategy in medical equipment maintenance allows facility leaders to stay ahead of their competition without budget concerns.  One way many healthcare facilities have chosen to do this is through outsourcing.  This allows medical facilities to purchase service and repair contracts from companies that specialize in the service and repair of large scaled medical equipment such as linear accelerators and CT scanners. 

Healthcare centers rely on medical equipment to provide the highest quality of care to patients at all times.  It is crucial that your facility have a system in place to manage, maintain, and repair high end, technologically advanced medical equipment like LINAC.  This can be done simply by contracting services through an OEM or third-party service provider.  Facilities must have a strategy in place that fits their exact needs including both maintenance and repair.

Considerations in Medical Equipment Service Contracts

When you are purchasing a contract, it is important to make sure you know exactly what is and what is not covered.  Full-service contracts, through an OEM or third-party provider should normally provide parts, labor, and preventative maintenance.  Analyze your facility’s medical equipment needs.  Ask yourself the following:

  • What times of the day is equipment used for patient care?
  • Are back-up systems available if the main piece of equipment is down?
  • How old is the current equipment? What is the service history of the equipment?

Ways Facilities Can Save When Contracting an OEM or Third-Party Provider

  • Choose an 8 am to 5 pm, Monday-Friday option for service and maintenance.
  • Combine equipment and facilities into a single contract.

In-House Strategies to Support Contracted Services

Even with contracted services there should be an in-house program to support it.  There are quite a few cost saving strategies including the assessment of available staff, the competency of your staff, the history of equipment, and the level of risk the hospital wants to assume.

  • Determine your staff’s availability and capability.  The staff should attend training and expectations of the level of support to be given for each piece of equipment should be determined.
  • Do a complete cost/benefit analysis between a full-service contract vs a combination of contracted services and staff maintenance.  Remember to consider the costs associated with training, parts, and additional tools/equipment that would be needed.
  • Review the historical data on the expense of labor and parts for each piece of equipment.  This will help you determine the cost of parts and labor under contract if you wouldn’t have had a contract in place vs having the contract in place.

As mentioned earlier there are a number of different medical equipment service, maintenance, and repair plans beyond full-service contracts. These include:

  • Preventive Maintenance Contract
  • Parts Only Contract
  • Biomed Support Contract

After doing research and analysis on your existing equipment you should have a good idea on which type of service contract best suits your company.  Linear accelerator maintenance, repair, service, and parts will obviously cost more than then the same services on a hospital bed.  These are the things that facility leaders need to account for when contracting with an OEM or third-party service company.

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/.



Radiation Therapy 101

There is a lot of information on radiation therapy online.  The process of delivering radiation isn’t exactly the same between facilities however it’s similar.  In this installment we will look into radiation therapy generically to provide a general overview. 

Methods For Treatment

There are a number of ways to treat cancer with radiation; the method used depends on the nature and position of your cancer.  The most prevalent method of radiation is known as external beam therapy.  This is often done using a linear accelerator from the outside of the body directing radiation to the tumor. 

Radiation therapy is known to affect both cancerous and normal cells.  Radiation has a greater effect on cancerous cells.  Treatment is given at the highest dose possible, within a safe limit, to kill cancerous cells without causing damage to normal, healthy cells.  If the goal is to reduce the size of the tumor in order to relieve symptoms or to shrink the tumor for surgery, low dosages are often used.

Radiation Professionals

Radiation therapy is planned out by a specialist cancer doctor known as a radiation oncologist.  Then radiation is delivered by a radiation therapist.  A team of specialists including nurses, health care assistants, counselors, and dieticians will work together to ensure the best possible outcome for your treatment. 

There are many benefits included in how radiation treatment is planned.  Each patient has a unique treatment plan that is designed to meet each patient’s particular need.  During the initial visit a course of treatment will be planned.  This is done using simulators, x-rays, and scans to pinpoint the tumor.  The skin will be marked to define the treatment area. 

Life With Treatments

Most individuals receiving radiation therapy will not need to stay overnight in a hospital after receiving radiation.  Therapy is done on an outpatient need unless your radiation oncologist determines that treatment would be more effective if done while admitted.

Patients are allowed to continue life as normal during their radiation treatment.  It should not cause too much interruption to your day, in fact it should be looked at as another daily routine activity.  Radiation is given using a linear accelerator which works by delivering radiation from the outside through your skin.  Patients receiving treatment lay on a treatment couch and are asked to remain completely still.

Radiation oncologists will determine the length of treatment needed when first evaluating your situation.  The course of treatment can last anywhere from a week to six and can be performed on a weekly or daily basis.  This will depend on a number of factors including the area that is being treated, the aim of the treatment, and more. Each session of radiation varies depending on the machine used.  Most sessions last between five and fifteen minutes.

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/.



A Sampling of Different LINAC Components and What They Do


A drive stand is a large part of a linear accelerator.  It is a cabinet in the shape of a rectangle that is attached to the floor within the treatment room.  The horizontal axis bearings that the gantry rotates on are positioned within the drive stand.

Components Within the Drive Stand

  • Klystron or Magnetron
  • RF Waveguide
  • Circulator
  • Cooling Water System

Klystron:

A Klystron is responsible for the microwave power that is used to accelerator the electrons.  This process occurs through intensification of present RF (Radio Frequency) electromagnetic waves.  The basic description of the operation of a Klystron is that it is a RF amplifier. A Klystron is often chosen for LINAC needing larger amounts of electron energy.

Magnetron:

A magnetron can be used in place of a Klystron.  A Magnetron is an electron tube that is responsible for providing the microwave power to accelerator electrons. A Magnetron is often chosen for LINAC needing smaller amounts of electron energy such as 4 MeV to 6 MeV LINAC.

RF Waveguide:

The structure in which the microwave powered RF electromagnetic waves are accelerated from the Klystron or Magnetron.

Circulator:

The circulator connects the Klystron or Magnetron to the RF Waveguide.

Cooling Water System:

A cooling system is in place to prevent overheating.  It creates a stable temperature environment within the Drive Stand and Gantry.

A gantry rotates three hundred and sixty degrees around a single point.  It works by directing the radiation beam from the LINAC to the tumor without moving the patient. 

Components Within the Gantry

  • Electron Gun
  • Accelerator Structure
  • Treatment Head

Treatment Head:

The treatment head of a linear accelerator encompass the components that shape and monitor the radiation beam.  These components include bending magnet, collimator, ion chambers, tray slots, wedges, blocks, and compensators.

Modulator Cabinet:

The modulator cabinet is the loudest components of a linear accelerator.  This component is located within the radiation treatment room.  The modulator cabinet includes a fan control, auxiliary power distribution system, and a primary power distribution system.  The fan control is used to cool off the power distribution systems.  The power distribution systems include the emergency off button to shut down the power to the LINAC.

Bending Magnet:

A bending magnet is a component of a LINAC that changes the direction of the beam down towards the patient.  It bends the beam towards the target and produces different paths for the beam for different energy needs. 

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/.



Exploring Radiation Therapy Treatments Part 2


As promised in our last blog post today we will dive into the concept of radiation therapy.  In our last installment we discussed linear accelerators and how the radiation beam is produced and delivered.  If you are unfamiliar with LINAC and how radiation is created and delivered look back at our previous blog post before continuing. 

Radiation Therapy

The treatment of cancer with radiation is known as radiation therapy. Depending on the type of cancer you have been diagnosed with will depend on the way radiation therapy is delivered to your tumor(s).  The most common method of radiation therapy is external beam therapy.  This involves delivery of radiation to the cancerous tumors from outside of the body.  The radiation is delivered directly to the tumor.  A LINAC allows the radiation beam to be shaped in the same shape as the cancerous tumor.  Another option of radiation therapy is internal radiation therapy.  This treatment involves implanting radiation directly onto the cancerous tumor. The nature of the cancer being treated will determine the type of radiation therapy delivered.

How It Works

Radiation therapy does not distinguish between healthy and cancerous cells although the effect is greater on cancerous cells. The highest dose of radiation possible is delivered to the cancerous tumor in the attempt to kill, break down, and shrink tumor. Smaller doses of radiation can be delivered when palliative care is the goal.  The goal of palliative care is to relive symptoms of cancer by shrinking the size of the tumor.  Palliative care is focused on increasing the quality of life left for a patient and their family. 

Who Performs Radiation Therapy

A radiotherapist/radiation oncologist is what we refer to as a physician specializing in the treatment of cancer. This individual is the person that will plan and oversee your treatment from beginning until the end of treatment.  Radiation is delivered by a professional known as a radiation specialist.  A team of professionals will work with your specialists to ensure you are receiving the best care possible.  Some of the members of this team include: nurses, health care assistants, counselors, and dietitians. 

Treatment Plan

Each course of radiation therapy is uniquely designed for the patient that is being treated.  A preliminary appointment will be scheduled in which you will discuss your course of treatment.  This plan is created by your radiation oncologist and radiation therapist using all the scans and x-rays that have been taken of your cancerous tumor.  The skin is colored in to define the location of the tumor and where the treatment will be delivered.  If radiation is being delivered to your head a head shell will be created for you that allows for the exact placement of treatment to be marked on the shell vs on your skin.  Treating cancer in the mouth or throat will require a dental assessment to determine if dental treatment is needed before radiation can be delivered.

Inpatient vs Outpatient

Patients that can go to and from the hospital easily will most likely be allowed to have outpatient radiation therapy.  Your radiation oncologist will tell you if they would prefer your treatment to be inpatient but overall most treatment is done on an outpatient basis. 

Additional Tests/Scans During Treatment

Over the course of radiation therapy, patients will be asked to have an occasional blood draw or urinalysis completed.  X-rays and other scans can also be required to determine if the radiation is working and if the placement of the treatment is correct based on the shrinking or break down of the tumor. 

During Treatment What Should I Avoid

Radiation therapy should be considered an interruption to normal life.  Your daily life can be continued as normal if you are feeling emotionally and physically able. 

Things to Keep in Mind During Radiation Therapy

Delivery – External radiation therapy is delivered using a machine known as a linear accelerator which was described in detail in our last installment.  For radiation to be delivered, you as the patient will be asked to lie on a couch under the LINAC and will need to remain still until the treatment is over.

Pain – Radiation therapy is painless.  The radiation can not be felt or seen during delivery.

Radioactivity – Patients always wonder if they will be radioactive after receiving radiation therapy.  You can rest assured that you will not be radioactive, there is no possible way for this to occur.

Duration – The duration of treatment will be decided by your radiation oncologist.  A course of radiation can be between one treatment to one every day, for one week to six weeks.  This will all depend on the type of cancer being treated, the dose of radiation needed, the part of the body being treated, and the aim at therapy whether it is therapeutic or palliative.

Length of Sessions – The length of each radiation session varies between machines and what is planned in your specific treatment plan.  Some LINAC operate at a faster rate than others.  Some cancerous tumors respond better to longer treatment sessions with smaller doses of radiation.  On average patients can expect that their sessions will last between five and fifteen minutes. 

Do’s and Don’ts During Treatment

Do’s

  • Make sure to drink plenty of fluids
  • Eat a regular, balanced diet
  • Shower regularly

Don’ts

  • Avoid alcohol, spicy food, or extreme hot and cold food
  • Avoid exposure to sunlight on the treated area
  • Avoid applying creams and deodorant to the treated area

Side Effects

Radiation treatment is localized.  Side effects depend on the location of treatment on the body.  We should note that side effects are rare however the following can occur:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Frequent Urination
  • Sore Throat
  • Localized Hair Loss

Work

Patients can keep on working as usual as long as they are feeling able and their radiation oncologists agree.  If your oncologist suggests time off for rest, it is best to listen to them and avoid work.

Once Treatment Is Finished

If you do have any of the above side effects, it can be assumed that they will end after a week or two.  The full benefits of radiation can usually be reached after a few weeks.  You will follow up with your specialists after four to six weeks of your final radiation treatment.  This will all be determined by your radiation therapist. 

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/.



Exploring Radiation Therapy Treatments Part 1


Medical facilities have a lot to consider when purchasing new or refurbished medical equipment.  It is imperative to offer clients the highest patient care possible while also meeting the goals of the facility.  As patients we often don’t consider the rigorous behind the scenes work it takes to bring us the latest and greatest treatments.  We just want to know that we are getting the best possible treatment for our unique situation.  This is especially true in the treatment of cancer.

Being told you need radiation is perhaps one of the scariest things you will hear.  Everyone has their own experience while going through the process to eliminate their cancer however, it seems the “negative” always outshines the positive as we are seeking answers to questions before our own treatment begins.  We are here to help.  The following installments will give you a solid understanding on the ins and outs of treatment.  Information reduces anxiety and at a time when anxiety is at all time high the last thing you want is to have unanswered question in connection with your treatment.

First and foremost, lets talk about the medical equipment that will be used in treating your cancer with radiation therapy.  Linear accelerators are large machines that can be quite intimidating.  In all honesty, the size of the machine and the impact of the treatment are both extreme and just their sight can create anxiousness. The truth is there is no reason at all to be intimidated by the size or treatment that is provided by linear accelerators, LINAC.

A LINAC is a large piece of medical equipment that uses elevated electromagnetic waves to accelerate electrons into extreme energy in a linear path that travels through an accelerator waveguide.  These electrons collide with a heavy metal target and the result of the collision is the production of high energy x-rays (photons) that are delivered to the patient.  Linear accelerators have special features that allow these beams to be shaped to conform to the tumors shape.  The LINAC treatment angles can be manipulated receiving a variety of angles through the rotating gantry and movable treatment couch.

Linear accelerators, LINAC, continue to evolve.  Radiation therapy continues to advance as well.  What does this mean for patients? 

Increased survival rates, more efficient treatment, fewer side effects, faster results, and more await patients with the advancements of LINAC systems.  The radiation therapy process doesn’t have nerve wracking to patients.  In our next installment we will dive further into the treatment, side effects, and questions patients often ask when discussing treatment with radiation therapy.

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/.



How Does A Linear Accelerator Improve Radiation Therapy?


With todays technology treating cancer through radiation therapy is completely customized to each specific patient’s need.  Linear accelerators deliver cutting-edge radiation therapy; providing one of the most advanced cancer treatment techniques available.  Linear accelerators are able to deliver targeted radiation beams directly onto a patient’s cancerous growths with minimal damage to the healthy surrounding tissue. 

Oncologists often recommend radiation therapy using linear accelerator technology to treat new cancer diagnosis as it often improves the chance of a good outcome. Below are a number of the benefits that cancer patients find that LINAC offer in cancer treatment.

Personalized Care

Using detailed imagery linear accelerators pinpoint cancerous tumors with amazing precision.  This technique is known as image-guided radiation therapy.  Treatment with LINAC allows for radiologists to compensate for the shrinkage of the tumor and its movement.   Radiation therapists will treat tumors individually before each treatment session to account for the varying size and shape of the tumor and its changing position in the body.  This allows them to directly deliver radiation to the cancerous cells to shrink and destroy them.  Technicians can target cancer more accurately which decreases the risk to healthy tissue. 

Treatment to Any Part of The Body

Cancer can grow in any part of your body.  Thankfully, linear accelerators are able to treat them wherever they are.  Radiation therapy, using linear accelerators allows for the targeting of cancerous growths no matter where they are including: prostate, uterus, cervix, and/or prostate.

Higher Cure Rates

With the advanced technology in treating cancer that linear accelerators offer, specialists are able to monitor and adjust for shrinking tumors on a daily basis.  This means that each treatment is aimed more directly at the cancerous tumor which increases the effectiveness of the treatment and encourages a higher cure rate. 

Increased Comfort in Treatment

Treating cancer can seem incredible scary.  Treatment sessions can be long and uncomfortable but thankfully treating cancer with linear accelerators makes radiation sessions faster and more comfortable.  LINAC treatment sessions which may have lasted 10 to 30 minutes can now be completed in less than two minutes.  Quicker treatments make more patients less anxious and more comfortable.  

It is easy to see how LINAC improve the treatment of cancer.  Linear accelerators make cancer treatment faster, increase cure rates, and can be customized to each individual’s patients needs.  Radiation therapist plans develop personalized treatment plans that include education and support.

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/.



The People Behind the Installation of a Linear Accelerators


Purchasing a linear accelerator takes a great deal of planning, an experienced team to pull it all together, and a commitment to purchasing a quality piece of equipment.  The planning process, as previously stated includes:

  • Understanding the goals of your clinic
  • Facility Planning
  • Schedule
  • Budget

In this installment we will look at the team of experts that you will need as you go about purchasing and implementing treatment using a large scaled piece of radiation therapy equipment such as a LINAC.  Putting an experienced team of experts in place starts by involving individuals who share a similar vision for the facilities project.  A unified group of professionals who will communicate with one another throughout the project.  This team should include: vault designer/construction, provider of the LINAC, physics support, IT team, and the facilities clinical team for implementation.  Choosing the best players for your team ensures success.  It is your responsibility when making a purchase of this magnitude to perform due diligence every step of the way.

Vault Designer/Construction

Only a specialist can design and construct a vault that is capable of safely accommodating a linear accelerator.  Not every construction company can create this safe space, it requires experience.  Having a reliable company, with proven results in your corner will not only save you money but also critical time as you begin planning the installation of your linear accelerator.

Linear Accelerator Provider

Not all LINAC and radiation therapy equipment providers are the same.  Don’t purchase equipment based solely on the basis of price as this is not the true cost of owning a linear accelerator.  It is crucial, whether you are purchasing a new, refurbished, or used linear accelerator that you work with a company that provides the necessary specialized installation and support needed throughout the ownership of the equipment.  Vendors such as Accelectronics, that can complete sales, delivery, installation, servicing, replacement parts, and removal provide reliability and accountability that many companies cannot compete with. 

Physics Support

Successful treatment and patient outcomes only can occur when a continuous quality assurance program is in place.  This group must have the tools and knowledge needed to make sure the installation and implementation of said equipment in your facility will be successful.  This can include but is not limited to the assurance that you are offering the best possible treatment, to ongoing FAQ support.

IT Team

The hardware and software of all types of medical equipment is ever changing, the same is true of radiation therapy equipment such as linear accelerators and CT scanners.  An IT team must be in place to ensure that equipment is kept up to date with the latest upgrades.  They also must understand the overall impact to the facility a new piece of equipment such as a LINAC will have.  Different systems must work together.  It is up to your IT team to implement this network in order to have successful patient outcomes.

Implementation

Once the other pieces of the puzzle are in place including technology, the clinical implementation team will work together to ensure the best treatment plans are delivered to patients. This team includes: in-house therapists, physicists, and dosimetrists.  This team is in place to guarantee an optimization treatment from beginning to end.

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/.



Are Beam Hours Important When Purchasing A Used LINAC?


Buying used and refurbished linear accelerators can save medical facilities a great deal of money.  This is fairly critical when it comes to the limited budgets that growing healthcare centers face.  The question most often asked is about the HV (high voltage) hours, beam hours, and how important their role is in determining the wear and tear of a LINAC

The most universal analogy comes down to the mileage of a used vehicle, the more miles usually means more wear and tear.  The higher the mileage, the less you should expect the resale value to be.  Beam hours are very similar.  Beam hours are equivalent to the time that the beam has been in use.  Thus, higher HV hours often means that these machines will be priced lower than LINACS with lower beam hours.  This of course assumes all other things are equal.

In reality a dozen factors go into determining the price facilities will pay when purchasing a used linear accelerator.  These include factors such as manufacturer, age of LINAC, updates to software/technology, and upgrades to the machine.  The chart below offers a reasonable explanation to what facilities should expect in regard to beam hours.

Expected Time Until Machine Replacement/Major Refurbishment
5 years 10 years 15 years
Patients Seen Per Day 10+ 2000 Beam Hours 1500 Beam Hours 1000 Beam Hours
<10 3000 Beam Hours 2500 Beam Hours 2000 Beam Hours

On the top you will see a number that reflects the years a used machine is expected to be in place at the new facility.  When a facility is getting started, doesn’t expect to see a lot of patients, and expects to have a higher revenue to purchase equipment in the next couple of years a used LINAC with higher beam hours is acceptable to be purchased.   However, if this same facility hopes to hold onto the machine for an extended period of time or expects to see a high number of patients, they should re-evaluate the number of acceptable beam hours that can be on a used LINAC. 

Situation: A health care center looking into adding a cancer treatment center to an already booming facility.  They are expecting that as they make available this new treatment option that their revenue will increase.  They also expect that as patients become aware of the option for treatment the number of patients, they can expect to see should be higher than they are to begin with.  They want to purchase a LINAC without having to replace it for about 10 years.  What amount of beam hours should they be looking for on a used LINAC? 

This facility, because they are assuming, they will see a high number of patients for treatment as the word spreads that they are offering LINAC treatment should assume that in time they will be seeing more than 10 patients a day.  Even if they start out slow at 5 patients a day now, it is assumed that they will be treating upwards of 15 or more eventually which will average out.  Because they want the equipment to last at least 10 years this facility should only be looking at LINAC systems with between 1000-1500 used beam hours anything with more than that will not serve the purpose for the volume of patients they are expecting or the years that they wish to use this piece of medical equipment.

Another thing a facility needs to consider is how often IMRT and VMAT treatment will be used.  These two types of treatment options consumer more beam hours.   This should be considered when looking into a used LINAC.   

This illustration should be used only as a guideline.   With proper, regular maintenance, servicing, and parts replacement, used/pre-owned linear accelerators can last for years even with a high number of beam hours. 

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/.



Radiation Therapy: Two Common Photon Treatments

There are several common types of radiation therapy that are used in treating cancer today.  Radiation therapy is classified according to the type of radiation particles or waves that are used in treatment which include: photons, electrons, or protons.  The most commonly available treatments using photons and electrons.  In this installment we will look further into treatments using linear accelerators, LINAC, and CT Scanners, in the treatment of cancerous tumors.

3D Conformal Radiation Therapy

3D conformal radiation therapy is a method of treating cancer that uses CT imaging, Cat scan-based, in the treatment of cancerous tumors.  In 3D conformal radiation therapy, the tumors and organs are well-defined 3D images as opposed to flat images that are gotten from x-rays.  Tumors are outlined in three dimensions on a CT scan. Healthy organs are defined as well when scans are performed so that technicians can see areas that need to be avoided. 

Radiation beams are then organized in the best possible way to avoid healthy organs while delivering the highest dose of radiation possible to the cancerous tumor.  Patients are placed in the same position as they were when their CT scan was performed.  This allows for accurate placement of beams according to the scans that were obtained. 

Special software is used that calculates the total amount of radiation that will be delivered to the tumor and normal tissues to assure that the tumor is sufficiently covered in radiation while healthy tissues and organs receive as little radiation as possible.   The radiation beams are adjusted even further based on the software’s calculations to give healthy doses of radiation while being manipulated into varying positions and shapes as defined by the tumor.  Radiation beams are directed using one of two types of machines: Cerrobend blocks or multi-leaf collimators. 

Cerrobend blocks are individually shaped to form specific, custom-made shapes that create the correct beam for treatment.

Multi-leaf collimators are skinny, metal blocks that move independent of one another in a quick, swift manner to form complex patterns to shape radiation treatment beams.  They are commonly used in IMRT.

Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)

IMRT is another form of delivering photons in the treatment of cancerous tumors with the possibility of lowering the dose of radiation delivered to non-cancerous tissues.  Planning for IMRT begins in a similar fashion as 3D conformal radiation therapy in that it starts out with simulation.  The tumor and organs are all outlined and shown as three-dimensional objects. Several beams of radiation are situated at varying points around the person in order to deliver the optimal amount of radiation. In IMRT, the beams are divided into a grid pattern.  The large radiation beam is split into numerous smaller beams known as beamlets. 

Software is used to establish the appropriate pattern to break the beamlets down into from the larger beam to prevent radiation targeting healthy tissues while delivering the optimum radiation to the cancer.  The multi-leaf collimators often form more than fifty different shapes during radiation treatment.  The main advantage to this type of radiation therapy is that the patterns the beamlets form are precise and the radiation controlled.  IMRT is often utilized when cancerous tumors are in positions that are difficult to treat. 

Often tumors that are directly adjacent to or wrapped around normal healthy organs, IMRT is used.  Intensity modulated radiation therapy reshapes the radiation in the best possible way to avoid normal organs while delivering large doses of radiation to the tumor.  IMRT is used commonly in the treatment of head and neck tumors where there are many other significant structures and organs that are near the tumor such as the spinal cord.

The one downside to IMRT is that it can take longer to plan and deliver treatment than other 3D conformal therapy.  Radiation can also be a bit more uneven as well because of the small beamlets that are being used.  Although normal organs are out of danger of high doses of radiation larger number of normal organs receive low doses of radiation which can be a disadvantage.  As of today, low doses of exposure to radiation are unknown.  Tumors must continually be monitored for movement and shrinkage to ensure that radiation is being delivered to the cancer. 

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/.