TrueBeam® System: Fast, Precise Cancer Treatment
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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
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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