What is radiation therapy?
therapy, or radiotherapy, uses ionizing radiation produced by a
linear accelerator (linac) to kill cancer cells and shrink
tumors. The radiation passes through the body and delivers dose
to the affected area while minimizing dose to the skin and tissue
it passes through.
Although the radiation affects both cancer and normal cells, it
has a greater effect on the cancer cells, damaging their genetic
material and making impossible for these cells to continue to
grow and divide. Treatment aimed at cure will give the highest
possible dose of radiation to the cancer area (within safe
limits) to attempt to kill all the cancer cells. Sometimes
smaller doses are used, where the aim is to reduce the size of a
tumor and/or relieve symptoms.
Electrons are used to treat skin cancers and other superficial
lesions, as they are absorbed by the first few centimeters of
skin, leaving very little dose to pass into the body. Radiation
therapy is used to both cure disease and alleviate the symptoms
of cancer. There are also a number of non-malignant conditions
that are treated using radiation therapy.
Why does Adventist Medical Center use Elekta Infinity?
Adventist Medical Center is committed to providing the highest
quality cancer care. With Elekta Infinity, we have the world's
most advanced radiation therapy system for cancer treatments.
Elekta Infinity reduces the time required for radiotherapy
sessions to five minutes or less, while giving your doctor the
ability to treat targets more aggressively than ever before.
Elekta Infinity incorporates Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy
(VMAT), an innovative way to deliver radiation treatments that is
a significant improvement over current approaches. With Elekta's
VMAT technology, the target area is continuously irradiated while
the source of the beam rotates around the patient.
Faster, More Precise Treatments
Clinicians using Elekta Infinity can create a dose that conforms
very tightly to the target area in significantly less time than
with current techniques. Elekta VMAT achieves this with
sophisticated computer programming that simultaneously controls
five different system components (gantry position, gantry speed,
leaves of the multi-leaf collimator, collimator angle and dose
The state-of-the art Elekta Infinity integrates a suite of
imaging tools to enable high quality, 3D imaging at the time of
treatment. In addition to improving accuracy, Elekta Infinity
reduces or eliminates the need for implanting markers, as
clinicians can visualize soft tissue detail using Elekta
To minimize unnecessary exposure to radiation, Elekta Infinity
incorporates ultra-low dose capabilities through active leakage
reduction to ensure minimal dose to critical structures, and
Elekta Infinity incorporates real-time assurance that the
intended dose is delivered as precisely as it was planned
Additionally, the low-dose imaging capability of Elekta Infinity
helps minimize the side effects of radiation therapy by reducing
the margins previously set to account for uncertainties of target
dimensions, location and movement. In addition, clinicians have
the confidence that a 3D plan will be delivered as an accurately
targeted 3D treatment.
What happens during radiation therapy?
Here are the
steps you'll go through at Adventist Medical Center:
1. Visit to Hospital Consultant
The radiation oncologist may ask for diagnostic procedures to be
undertaken, either in the radiation therapy department or at a
general hospital. These can include X-rays, computed tomography
(CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission
tomography (PET) scans, biopsies and blood tests. Once the nature
of the disease has been established, a treatment regime will be
planned and prescribed.
MRI, CT or PET scanning is required to determine the exact size,
shape and position of the area to be treated within the body,
known as the treatment site. These images are then used to plan
the patients' treatment.
3. Treatment Planning
Once your images have been taken your physician develops a
treatment plan. The treatment plan is created using treatment
planning software, which calculates the position, dose and
frequency of the treatment. Before treatment commences the
treatment may be simulated i.e., performed on a non-treating
machine, to ensure the correct treatment will be delivered later.
Treatment may be given on an out-patient or in-patient basis. It
is imperative that the prescription and treatment plan is adhered
to as any missed treatment may affect success. The patient
usually receives the same treatment each day for a course of
treatment, which can last up to six weeks. Treatment is monitored
regularly and may be adjusted if the patient suffers from adverse
side effects or loses weight.
To receive the radiation therapy, you will lie on a couch under
the machine, and be asked to remain still during the actual
treatment. The treatment is completely painless. Radiation cannot
be seen or felt while it is being given.
During treatment a process of verification takes place. By using
built-in imaging on Elekta Infinity, images are taken of the
treatment site. These images are used to verify both the patient
position and the accuracy of the treatment beam.
When the treatment is completed, the patient attends follow-up
clinics for up to five years. These are held to assist the
patient in managing any post treatment side effects and to
monitor the disease regression or progression. Initially the
patient attends the center where he or she was treated. Annual
follow-ups may then be conducted at a hospital closer to the