Monitoring of Patient Movement During Radiotherapy May Get Easier

Research from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has found using new mmWave technology to be a great asset to perform precise monitoring of patient motion in real-time during radiotherapy treatments. The mmWave technology can monitor displacements with .1mm to 1 mm accuracy at low cost using a simple and easy to use device. Imaging with millimeter waves can overcome obstacles of current techniques like the optical tracking of a patient’s skin surface or CT scanning. This new device can also monitor breathing and cardiac motion that may, in time, replace respirometers or other breathing monitoring devices. To read more about the research and the outcome of mmWave technology, you can read this article for more information.

Beams Used in Radiation Therapy

The use of external beam radiation therapy is one of the most common forms of cancer treatments that a doctor or oncologist will recommend. This method involves radiotherapy equipment such as a linear accelerator that aims radiation from outside of a patient’s body and directly targets local areas of a cancer site. Various types of cancers can be treated with external beam radiation therapy, and depending on the unique characteristics of the tumor, a selection of systems and treatments will be formed for the best outcome. Not only are there different types of machines that can be used, but also the radiation beam used in external radiation therapy can come from three kinds of particles called photons, protons, and electrons.

Photons

The majority of radiation therapy machines use ionizing photon beams since they can reach tumors deep in the body. Photons are also used in x-rays, although they consume a much lower dose of the particle in comparison. The radiation that is delivered during photon treatment will damage the DNA of tumors and healthy cells alike. Radiation therapists aim to maximize the dose targeting the tumor while minimizing the radiation to nearby healthy tissues by creating different paths with multiple fields. To avoid overexposure to healthy cells, the treatment is generally given in stages over repeated scheduled sessions so that the healthy cells have time to repair.

Protons

Charged particle radiotherapy is an alternative method of radiotherapy that uses beams of protons or other positively charged particles such as helium, carbon, or other ions that are not photons. These types of beams can also reach tumors deep inside the body, but they perform differently than photons as they do not scatter radiation on their path and will stop once they reach the targeted tumor. Due to the physical characteristics of charged particles, it may be possible to cover the tumor area with only one radiation field, creating an advantage over the use of photons to spare more healthy tissues and cells. Clinical trials are continuing to compare the usage of these two energy types. There are cancer centers that are beginning to use proton beams in radiation therapy, but they have higher costs and require a larger space to fit the increased size of the equipment.

Electrons

Particles with a negative charge are electrons. Electron beam radiation therapy is designed to treat cancers like lymphoma and other tumors near the surface since these electrons do not go deep into the body. These therapy options can be done in two different ways:

  1. Spot treatment – This method is used for one or more cancerous spots on the body that needs treatment.
  2. Total Skin Electron Beam Therapy (TSEB) – This method is used when the entire surface of the skin needs to be treated. Other treatments called compensation treatments can be part of the treatment plan to guarantee that every area of the skin receives the proper dose required.

Radparts is the world’s largest independent distributor of OEM replacement parts for Linear Accelerators and Radiation Oncology equipment. Radparts provides high quality, user-friendly, and low-cost parts and support for linear accelerators and radiation equipment. More information can be found at https://www.radparts.com/.



World Cancer Day Brings Discussions for More Affordable Radiotherapy Treatment Options

In celebration of World Cancer Day on February 4th, director of IAEA General Rafael Mariano Grossi raised awareness about radiotherapy and how widely used the treatments are throughout the world. He brought to light the fact that 1/3 of lower-to-middle-income countries do not have access to any radiotherapy treatments. A total of 28 countries in Africa do not have a single radiotherapy unit, which makes a cancer diagnosis almost a death sentence for many. It is estimated that 300,000 women die from cervical cancer each year, which needs to stop as this form of cancer can typically be treated and cured in developed countries. The IAEA continues to spread awareness and will establish nuclear and radiation medicine services and provide training to medical professionals to help change these statistics. To learn more, read this article.

Solutions for Cooling Systems of a LINAC

LINACs are a type of particle accelerator that increases the kinetic energy of a particle that can be used in a variety of different areas such as scientific research or during radiation therapy to remove cancer cells of a patient. As with most medical and lab-related equipment, particle accelerators are negatively affected by thermal changes, especially with an increase of heat. It is of most importance to maintain temperature control of the equipment components to guarantee the integrity, performance, and reliability of the system. A solution that helps maintain temperature control is using a custom liquid cooling system. We will further discuss this option below so you can adequately care for your LINAC equipment.

How A LINAC Works

A medical linear accelerator (LINAC) produces and delivers a radiation beam using high energy x-rays or electrons to a targeted area to destroy cancer cells while carefully not damaging the surrounding normal and healthy tissues nearby. The medical equipment accelerates electrons in part of the accelerator called the waveguide and then allows the electrons to collide with a heavy metal target to create the high-energy x-rays. The radiation beams are shaped as they exit the machine to conform to the shape of the patient’s tumor. The patient lies on a movable treatment couch and the lasers are designed to be sure that the patient is in the correct position. The couch can move in a variety of directions along with the gantry – the part of the accelerator in which the radiation beam comes from.

Cooling System Needs

When using a LINAC during IMRT (intensity-modulated radiation therapy), the thermal consistency is necessary to maintain beam energy and stability. All the parts inside the equipment such as the tungsten target, waveguide, acceleration chamber, and the magnets need accurate thermal control to eliminate heat buildup and to allow the temperatures to remain the same for optimal usage for operation. Some of the parts within the machine, like the waveguide and filament material, require temperatures within .5 degrees Celsius. The solution to this is to install a liquid cooling system as the best option. In an IMRT system, the cooling path can be complicated. The water starts by cooling the charging drawer and oil pump. It then leads to the liquid cooling system that will decrease the temperature of the entire system, including the linear accelerator.

Types of Liquid Cooling

Liquid cooling systems are ideal for temperature control and stabilizing. They are designed to remove large amounts of heat that is generated in a densely packed electronic environment of a linear accelerator. It may cause concern that liquid coolant is so near all these electrical products but if the cooling system is designed and assembled correctly, there should be no issues. A few reasons these systems are more beneficial opposed to air-based heat exchangers is the ability to provide faster cooling, runs more quietly, and is more reliable with less downtime. Three options for cooling systems are:

  1. Liquid – Air Heat Transfer Configuration – a high-pressure pump that recirculates the liquid coolant and an air heat exchanger to remove heat in the liquid system
  2. Liquid – Liquid Configuration – the pump recirculates the coolant and the facility water is used for a liquid heat exchanger to remove heat from the higher temperature side
  3. Compressor – Based Chiller System – the pump recirculates coolant that is chilled to well below standard temperature

Radparts is the world’s largest independent distributor of OEM replacement parts for Linear Accelerators and Radiation Oncology equipment.  Radparts provides high quality, user-friendly, low-cost parts and support for linear accelerators and radiation equipment. More information can be found at https://www.radparts.com/.



New Forms of Flash Radiotherapy Being Researched

Treating cancer can be a long and tedious process with multiple procedures that need to be performed using radiation equipment such as linear accelerators. To become cancer-free, what if this process could be easier? An emerging form of treatment called FLASH radiation therapy treats a cancer patient with a similar amount of radiation normally given over weeks, dispensed at once, within a second of time. FLASH radiotherapy is found to be as effective in killing cancer cells without the continual exposure of radiation to healthy tissue. Researchers at Pennsylvania University are also studying that by changing the type of particle used in the linear accelerator from electrons to protons the treatment will penetrate deeper into the body, essentially making FLASH radiotherapy more effective in treating cancerous tumors. To read more about this new research, click here.

New Partnership for ViewRay In the Works

Plans for the partnership for radiation therapy company ViewRay with Medtronic and Elekta are in the works. News of the new joint decision has already increased ViewRay shares up 37% in the after-hours trading. The agreement is however contingent upon ViewRay raising $75 million in equity capital, so the agreement is non-binding at the time. The collaboration is hopeful for ViewRay to work with Elekta and run clinical studies to research MR-guided radiation therapy. The details of the agreement made with Medtronic are less available in this stage, but analysts believe the investments from Medtronic’s partnership show “strong signs”. To read more on this new partnership with these companies read here.

Why Buying a Refurbished Linac Makes Sense for a Clinic

When deciding to add or upgrade a facility’s medical linear accelerator (Linac) many factors need to be thoroughly examined such as budget, location, time frames, and other personal impacts. One major decision to make is if to purchase a new or used/refurbished Linac and determining which will offer the best benefits long term. Depending on your situation sometimes a new Linac is required but most often a refurbished option will work perfectly, allowing you to save money as well. Below, are a few reasons to choose a refurbished linear accelerator for your next purchase.

Fewer Patients Being Treated

If your company is new or smaller in size, purchasing a refurbished Linac could be very beneficial. Pre-owned or refurbished Linac’s cost less and have lower monthly lease payments than choosing new equipment. Having fewer than 8 to 10 patients a day is generally considered a small medical facility. With fewer patients equals less money to help cover the costs of equipment fees so taking it low and slow maybe a better business option to guarantee that your clinic continues to grow at a steady pace, allowing quality and effective treatments for all patients. Veterinarian clinics or research facilities may also benefit from a refurbished Linac as they generally do not require all the advanced technologies provided in newer models. The use of linear accelerators may not always be for medical use; instead for industrial uses to image materials.

 Operating with Only One Linac or Want a Backup

Often a dilemma will arise when a company is moving into a new location and cannot afford to have a machine down during the relocation process, which can take about 3 to 4 weeks for the transition. An option to avoid this situation is to purchase a refurbished replacement that is like the existing equipment and have it installed in the new location. Once the new facility is complete and open for business, the patients can receive treatment with the newly refurbished equipment and you can either keep the original linear accelerator as a backup or sell it. This solution prevents companies from losing patients from a lack of available machines.

Other Factors to Consider in Budget

Purchasing a used or new linear accelerator is only the first step in getting the proper equipment setup for your business. Other services that should be researched with your Linac is the warranty, service and maintenance plans. This information will help you decipher which options are best for your facility and meet your needs. Also, remember to consider the costs of equipment removal and disposal. The purchasing and planning process of linacs can be very overwhelming which is why choosing the right company for the job is key for a successful addition/upgrade to your facility.

Radparts is the world’s largest independent distributor of OEM replacement parts for Linear Accelerators and Radiation Oncology equipment.  Radparts provides high quality, user friendly, low cost parts and support for linear accelerators and radiation equipment. More information can be found at https://www.radparts.com/.



Cancer Treatment Is Always an Option, No Matter Your Age

Often, when a patient is older in their years and receives the bad news that they have fallen victim to a form of cancer, they begin to come to terms with the fact that their lives will soon be over due to it. This sense of thinking does not have to be a person’s future outcome since with today’s technology no matter a person’s age, cancer treatment is a very promising option to be used. However, studies have shown patients aged 90 years or older are not even being offered any treatment at all. In this article the statistics of elderly patients and their success rates of using radiotherapy as a treatment option are shown and how even at an older age these patients have gained significant years added to their lives, which can be very worthwhile. With new techniques and technology, the treatment can be much less invasive without needing surgery and can truly be a lifesaver for many of lives young and old.