Options in Radiation Therapy Delivery

Did you know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month?  Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer that is treated in the United States with over 250,000 new cases being diagnosed each year.   It is estimated that this year, 2018 we will have approximately 1,735,350 cases of cancer diagnosed.  With this number expected to continue to grow, the techniques used in delivering radiation therapy, the most popular treatment option, are continuing to advance.

Radiation treatment for cancers of all types may be delivered externally or internally.  With external radiation a beam of high-energy rays is directed towards the tumor from outside of the body.  This delivery is most often done using a large piece of equipment known as a linear accelerator or LINACS for short.  Internal radiation, brachytherapy, requires the implantation of seeds containing radioactive material to be place in or near the cancer.  Another method of delivering radiation in cases of cancers like that found within the thyroid is sent directly into the vein.  Treatment options for cancer continue to advance as better methods are found to deliver radiation without causing harm to healthy cells surrounding the cancerous tissues.

EBRT – External Beam Radiation Therapy

Linear accelerators are used to deliver external beam radiation therapy.  Radiation is delivered from outside of the body by penetrating cancerous cells with high-energy external radiation beams.  This dense radiation beam is used to kill or shrink the cancerous tumor without harming healthy tissues.  Linear accelerators allow for a more precise treatment of radiation which leads to fewer side effects.  EBRT is most often prescribed on an outpatient basis for upwards of eight weeks.

3D-CRT – Three-Dimensional Conformal Radiation Therapy

Another method of EBRT is done using a specialized computed tomography scan, CT scanner and targeting computer.  This radiation treatment gives oncologists the ability to perform three-dimensional conformal radiation.  This type of therapy reduces damage to healthy tissues while delivering a higher dose of radiation to the target area.

IMRT – Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy

IMRT is another three-dimensional option in radiation therapy.  It gives the oncologist the ability to customize the doses given to each area of the tumor.  Using computer-controlled sections that are movable, radiation is delivered.  The sections are used to adjust the amount od radiation that is given at any one time.  They can block or allow radiation beams through to the treatment area.  The sections are adjusted to the size, shape, and location of the tumor.  It is similar to an adjustable showerhead where the streams of water can be adjusted, some areas offer thicker streams than others.

IGRT – Image-Guided Radiation Therapy

IGRT is a fairly new radiation treatment.  This type of therapy involves a number of images to be taking during the radiation treatment.  Computers compare the original images that were taken during the planning phase with the images that are coming through during treatment for comparison.  This allows the patient’s body position to be adjusted to shift treatment to the exact location of the tumor.  This treatment increases the accuracy of radiation while providing documentation within degrees of accuracy.  Image-guided radiation therapy can be used along with EBRT, 3D-CRT, and IMRT.

IORT – Intraoperative Therapy

Treatment using intraoperative therapy is delivered directly to the cancerous tumor during surgery.  This allows a higher dose of radiation to be delivered directly to the cancer while decreasing the exposure of radiation to healthy tissues.  These healthy tissues can be moved and shielded during surgery and exposure to radiation.  IORT is often used in cancers that are localized, difficult to remove, and have a high risk of reoccurring.

Brachytherapy

Brachytherapy is also known as internal radiation.  Seeds of radioactive materials are implanted directly into or near the cancer.  This type of radiation therapy is often given when an additional dose of radiation is needed during EBRT but can also be used alone.  Overtime if the seeds are not removed the radioactive material will diminish, it can also be removed after a specific period of time.  This is dependent on the treatment plan for each unique patient and cancer.  Often Brachytherapy is used in treating prostate, cervix, uterine, vaginal, head, neck, and breast cancer.

SRS – Stereotactic Radiosurgery

Most widely used in treating brain tumors, arteriovenous malformation, and other selected conditions, SRS is a non-invasive option.  It delivers a high dose of radiation to a super defined area.  This type of radiation treatment delivers what is normally spread out amongst weeks of treatment in just one single treatment.  It can also be in a fractional manner over just a few weeks.

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/.

Treatment with Radiation Therapy

What is radiation therapy?

There are a number of options to treat cancer, radiation therapy is just one of them.  There are a number of ways in which radiation can be delivered.  The method that is used to treat your individual type of cancer is dependent solely on the nature of your cancer.  External beam therapy delivers radiation directly to the tumor through a machine known as a linear accelerator, from outside your body.

How does it work?

Radiation treatment targets cancer cells during treatment however this does not mean that the healthy cells around the area won’t be affected by treatment.  Thankfully, radiation treatment has the greatest affect on the cancerous cells.  Treatment using a LINAC system delivers the highest amount of radiation treatment that can be safely given, to the cancerous area.  This treatment is aimed at killing cancer cells.  Sometimes smaller doses of radiation are given.  This is usually the case where doctors are hoping to shrink the tumor and offer relief to the patient vs attempting to “cure” the patient.

Who takes care of the patient?

A doctor that specializes in cancer is referred to as a radiotherapist or radiation oncologist.  They are in charge of planning and overseeing treatment that will be administer by a radiation therapist.  A number of specialists will be involved in treating your cancer including: nurses, specialists, counselors, health care aids, and dietitians, depending on your unique needs.

Where is the treatment received?

Treatment and delivery are designed with each unique patient in mind.  Treatment is performed in a hospital or clinic and is done in a manner that is suited to the persons receiving its particular needs.  A preliminary visit is scheduled in order to plan out your treatment plan.  The radiation oncologist and therapists will do this.  Using a simulator, x-rays, and scans skin is marked using different colored pens that help define the placement of treatment.  Permanent marks can be made using a special dye or tiny pin prick if needed.

Each of these marks allows the therapists administering radiation to ascertain the exact area that needs to be treated during each and every treatment session.  If you are using a head shell, the guidance marks will be added to the shell rather than to your skin.  Radiation treatment can also be delivered to the mouth and throat area.  If this is the case a dental assessment will be done, along with necessary dental treatments and then radiation therapy can begin.

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/.

External Radiotherapy: Beating Cancer with Radiation

One of the most popular options in treating cancerous tumors is with the use of external radiotherapy.  There are several types of external radiotherapy options for doctors to choose from when treating each unique patient needs with the overall principal of the therapy being the same.  Radiation is delivered to the source of the cancer using a high-powered beam.

Linear accelerators are one type of machine that can deliver radiation to the source without causing severe damage to the healthy tissues surrounding the area. External radiotherapy is used to destroy cancerous cells and is administer by LINAC systems that deliver high energy x-ray beams known as photon beams.  Other systems deliver radiotherapy through particle beams, such as protons and electrons.  The principle is similar in both as the beam of radiation is aimed at an internal cancer source as treatment.

The DNA in cancerous cells is damaged through external radiotherapy.  DNA is either damaged directly or through particles called free radicals that damage them. This keeps the cancerous cells from growing or kills.  When the cells die they are broken down by the body and removed as waste.  Normal healthy cells surrounding the cancerous tumor are damaged slightly however they can usually repair themselves over time.

Treatment is not started until you have spoken to your doctor about possible short- and long-term side effects.  Most often side effects can be controlled with medication and are temporary.  The treatment is planned based off of the images that have been taken of the cancer via x-ray, CT scans, MRI’s, and/or PET scans.  The plan will ensure a higher dose of treatment to the cancerous tumor.  Treatment is given in the radiotherapy department of the hospital.  Machines in the radiotherapy department such as linear accelerators, are very big and can be a bit scary.

LINAC machines use electricity to create the beams of radiation that are delivered to the cancer.  During treatment the machine never actually touches you and nothing is felt during treatment.  There may be some side effects of discomfort and pain that can be managed with medication.  For the treatment to work well, the radiotherapy needs to cover all of the cancer and the border around it using the lowest dose possible to reduce any side effects.

When choosing the treatment that you will need your radiotherapy doctor will consider the following:

  • The type of cancer you have
  • The position of the cancer within your body
  • Treatments that you have had in the past, are currently having, and that are planned
  • Your general wellness, health, and fitness levels

Your external radiotherapy treatment is individualized to each and every patient.

The entire course of treatment can last anywhere between one to six weeks but can be longer.  This is determined by your doctor and how well you are responding to treatment.  The treatment that is put in place will be based on a personal routine that you can easily follow.

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/.

 

Treating Cancer with External Beam Radiation

There are several treatment options available when it comes to cancer treatment, one of the most common being external beam radiation therapy.  In external beam radiation a beam, or many beams, of radiation are shot through a person’s skin onto the cancerous tumor destroying the tumor and nearby cells of cancer.   To reduce the consequences of treatment it is usually given Monday through Friday, five days a week for several weeks.  This gives patients enough radiation to shrink and kill off the cancerous tumors while allowing healthy cells to restore themselves.

 

The beam of radiation that moves through the skin and targets the cancerous tumor is delivered through a machine known as a linear accelerator, also known as a LINAC.  A linear accelerator produces high-energy x-rays which treat the cancer.  This treatment option is done using computers and specialized software to create a treatment plan.  This plan will control the shape and size of the radiation beam as well as how it will enter your body to treat the tumor while pardoning the normal tissue.

 

Different types of cancer require specialized delivery of radiation using external radiation therapy.  In this installment on external beam radiation we will discuss several methods of delivery.

 

3-D CRT: Three-Dimensional Conformal Radiation Therapy

 

No two tumors are the same shape or size.  No two patients’ bodies are the same either. 3-D CRT uses advancements in technology like CT, PET, or MR scans to display the tumors size, shape, and location relevant to the surrounding organs.  This allows the radiation oncologist to tailor the beams of radiation with special shielding options to your exact tumor.  The more targeted treatment ensures that less of the surrounding healthy tissues receive the harmful radiation.

 

IMRT: Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy

 

IMRT, is a specialized from of 3-D CRT that shapes radiation to cover only the tumor sparing healthy, normal tissue surrounding the cancerous tumor.   In IMRT, the beams of radiation are broken down into several smaller beams with each beam’s intensity being able to be adjusted individually.  This allows the beam’s closer to the healthy tissue to deliver less intense radiation without decreasing the radiation delivered to the tumor.

 

IGRT: Image Guided Radiation Therapy

 

Image guided radiation therapy uses conformal radiation treatment that is guided by images from a CT, ultrasound, or x-rays taken right before treatment.  Since tumors can move between treatments, IGRT offers more targeted treatments as the images are taken right before treatment is given.  Your team of oncologists will confer the images between treatments to adjust the treatment that is needed.  Sometimes in IGRT doctors will place a marker in or near the tumor to help localize the treatment.  IGRT is another option in radiation treatment that allows for precise targeting of cancerous cells, protecting the healthy cells.

 

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/.

Patient Safety Is Affected by The Design of Your Facility

When it comes to receiving treatment, both in patient and out-patient, our safety is always a concern.  Whether a family member, friend, or even oneself is receiving care it is crucial that safety as a patient is of utmost concern for the facility where we are seeking treatment.  Accidents that occur within a facility whether they are minor, like slipping in the bathroom or major an error in medication received, cost billions of dollars per year.  The harm that is caused by ineffective patient safety measures don’t just affect the facility and patient, caregivers can also be scarred emotionally.

 

Patient care and safety is just one of the many reasons it is important to design your medical facility in such a manner that is basically fool proof.  You will see this demonstrated in a million different ways throughout the facility including:

Standardized patient and treatment rooms:

When rooms throughout the facility are designed in the same manner throughout it helps to prevent errors from occurring.  Rooms are set up in a manner that considers the predominance of right-handed professionals and patients.  This helps to ensure that the room is set up in the most efficient manner possible for the greatest good.

 

Standardized facilities take the guess work out of patient treatment and therefore help to ensure the best possible outcome in patient care.   Efficiency within the medical facility allows for a precise, standardized approach that allows treatment to be done quickly and safely.  Familiarity within the space, knowing where you can find what you need when you need it within a familiar environment that keeps patients safe and the work flow moving along competently.  When variation is removed all the guess work is taken out of the equation and thus error in treatment.

 

This is especially necessary when specialized treatment is sought.  Radiation oncology departments are just one of the many departments within a hospital that use a standardized approach in treatment room layout.  Radiation is an intense option in treating cancer using several large scaled devices like linear accelerators and CT scanners to find and treat cancerous tumors.

 

Although each patient’s treatment is unique the way it is received is not.  Simplifying the routine elements allows doctors and nurses to focus on the specific requirements of each patient.  Physicians can concentrate on patient information, dosing information, and the physical care of the patient over being concerned on where to find basic supplies.

Basic Principles To Promote Patient Safety:

As stated by author, John Reiling in Safe by Design: Designing Safety in Health Care Facilities, Process, and Culture, facilities must follow basic principles to promote patient safety.  This includes:

  • Being Patient Centered
  • Environmentally Conducive
  • Resourceful/Efficient
  • Safe
  • Superior Care
  • Advanced Technology
  • Knowledgeable and Approachable Staff

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/.