Treatment Technologies

TrueBeam® System: Fast, Precise Cancer Treatment

Click here for the TrueBeam® Video

The TrueBeam® system enables delivery of highly precise, sophisticated image-guided radiotherapy in the treatment of cancer. This technology was engineered to deliver high doses of radiation with accuracy, narrowly targeting tumors and minimizing exposure of the surrounding healthy tissues and organs.

The TrueBeam® system incorporates “intelligent” automation and high dose delivery rates that help reduce treatment time. In many cases, patients can be in and out of clinic in as little as 20 minutes per day over a course of treatment. Simple treatments that once took 15 minutes or more after the patient was positioned can now be completed in less than two.

Conformal Therapy – Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)

If your disease is in a deep-seated part of the body, an unusual shape or close to certain sensitive normal structures, such as the brain, spinal cord, or kidneys, you may be treated with conformal therapy or IMRT. The radiation oncologist will analyze the position of the disease in relation to normal anatomic structures and may devise novel ways of introducing radiation into the tumor.

For example, a special device may be made to ensure immobilization during treatment. Special imaging studies, i.e. CAT scans, PET scans, or MRI scans, may be performed in the treatment position to provide the highest accuracy of treatment. A second simulation may be necessary. Because conformal therapy and IMRT are so complex, daily treatment sessions may take longer.

The goal of all radiation therapy is to irradiate a tumor with a lethal dose of radiation while limiting the exposure to the normal tissue that surrounds it. Methods used by doctors to accomplish this include shaping the radiation beam with the use of lead shields in the front or head of the linear accelerator and the angling of several beams of radiation to intersect at the targeted tumor. Both of these methods, among others, allow for normal tissues to receive less radiation dose, while at the same time delivering a higher dose of radiation to the tumor.

IMRT utilizes a system of shields in the machine together with sophisticated dose calculation methods to use literally thousands of tiny beams, each individually shaped and coming from many different angles to target the area to be irradiated. IMRT is useful in treating small, fairly stationary targets surrounded by a large volume of normal tissue and/or critical structures that are especially close to the targeted tumor. Common types of tumors that may be treated with IMRT include brain tumors, prostate cancer and head and neck cancers. In some cases, breast cancers are treated with IMRT. Your physician will discuss with you if IMRT is appropriate in your case.

Radioactive Implants – Brachytherapy

The Radiation Oncology department is able to provide several types of brachytherapy — or internal radiation — also called implants. Internal radiation may be given as the only radiation treatment or in conjunction with external beam radiation. Some implants require hospitalization and others are performed on an outpatient basis.

During your initial consultation with the radiation oncologist, he or she will discuss your treatment plan with you. If an implant is part of the treatment plan, this will be included in the discussion.

Before the implant, the radiation oncologist will discuss the procedure with you again in full detail. The radiation oncology nurse will meet with you to give you verbal and written instructions regarding how to prepare for the procedure, precautions to take, where to report, and directions for after-care at home.

External Radiation – Beginning Therapy

The radiation oncologist will determine the number and frequency of treatments based on your needs. Your course of treatment may last from one day to a number of weeks. (See “Frequently Asked Questions.”)

The radiation oncology nurse will discuss with you all the self-care measures necessary for your comfort and safety. You will also be introduced to the therapists who will administer your treatment.

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