New Cancer Treatment Delivers Weeks of Radiation Therapy in Just One Second

For decades radiation therapy has been used to treat cancer and is still the best option we have at defeating the disease. The downside to radiation therapy is that it often takes weeks or even months for treatment session cycles and comes with collateral damage by also destroying healthy cells in the body.

However, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have discovered a way to deliver treatment in under one second. FLASH radiotherapy is an emerging form of therapy that involves giving a patient a one-second dosage of concentrated radiation that they would usually receive over a week. Experiments have proven that the result of the cancerous cells is comparable to the standard treatment duration; however, the exception being that damage to healthy tissue is significantly reduced.

Pennsylvania University researchers found that adjusting the fundamental particle used could make FLASH radiotherapy more effective. Typically, electrons are used in therapy, but they don’t penetrate very deep into the body, meaning they’re really only useful for shallower cancer types such a skin cancer.

The FLASH therapy model uses protons and showed that linear accelerators could be modified to produce and deliver these particles. Since protons penetrate deeper into body tissue, they can be much more effective in treating more significant tumor types.

“The is the first time anyone has published findings that demonstrate the feasibility of using protons, rather than electrons, to generate FLASH doses, with an accelerator currently used for clinical treatments,” says James M. Metz, co-senior author of the study.

Read more on how FLASH treatment is making breakthroughs in treating cancer here.

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.

The Average Life Expectancy of Elekta Linear Accelerator Parts

Over the past few years, companies that produce linear accelerators have been focusing on the service and maintenance areas as the primary source of their business plan. Not surprisingly, service contract sales have increased yearly for all linear accelerator companies. As this is beneficial to investors in this space, it doesn’t help the owners of the equipment and medical professionals that use them in their practice.

Many hospitals and clinics are looking for ways to decrease the cost of maintenance and service repairs. The cost of linear accelerator parts and servicing them can get quite pricey, and it can be quite easy to go over-budget very quickly. 

This article will break down the main components that will eventually need to be replaced or serviced in the Elekta linear accelerator and will assist those places looking to do their own maintenance. This will help lower the cost of maintenance and allow for more accurate budget forecasting. 

Below is the average lifespan of a variety of parts that will eventually need to be serviced or replaced and what you can expect of their overall lifetime value. 

Parts:

Magnetron: 

High use system (35+ patients /day): 2 Years 

Moderate use system (<30 patients/day): 5-6 Years

Low use system (15 patients /day): 5-6 Years

X-ray Tube: 

High use system (35+ patients /day): 18 Months                       

Moderate use system (<30 patients/day): 3 Years

Low use system (15 patients /day): 4+ Years

XVI Detector: 

High use system (35+ patients /day): 5 years

Moderate use system (<30 patients/day): 7 Years

Low use system (15 patients /day): 10+ Years

iView Detector: 

High use system (35+ patients /day): 2 Years

Moderate use system (<30 patients/day): 4 Years

Low use system (15 patients /day): 4 Years

Electron Gun: 

High use system (35+ patients /day): 1 year

Moderate use system (<30 patients/day): N/A

Low use system (15 patients /day): N/A

Thyratron Tube: 

High use system (35+ patients /day): 3 Years

Moderate use system (<30 patients/day): 5 years

Low use system (15 patients /day): 5+ Years

Reflectors: 

High use system (35+ patients /day): 2-3 Years

Moderate use system (<30 patients/day): 2-3 Years

Low use system (15 patients /day): N/A

MLC Camera: 

High use system (35+ patients /day): 2-3 Years (Old Type); Much Longer Now

Moderate use system (<30 patients/day): 2-3 Years (Old Type); Much Longer Now Low use system (15 patients /day): N/A

Depending on your Elekta linear accelerator, the magnetron has considerably different life expectancy expectations. New magnetrons usually are not equipped with a feedback system, which will need to be replaced with 3-4 years. The 18MV, however, is an older machine that has a feedback system that can last up to 10 years. 

The ion chamber of the Elekta part is sensitive to indoor climate and the region in which it is located. High humidity can shorten its lifespan by two-thirds, with a typical chamber lasting within four years and one in higher humidity levels as low as one year. 

High use on a linear accelerator can wear on the electron gun and may need to be replaced within a year, but if not used as frequently can last over six years. 

The thyratron tube is the part that produces the pulses to the electron gun and is one of the most critical components of any linear accelerator. Surprisingly the thyratron tube has a consistent lifespan regardless of usage. The baseline expectation is three years, with a possible stretch of five years if properly taken care of.

Daily patient volume significantly affects the X-ray tube’s lifespan, and lower levels of usage will allow several years of operation before needing to be replaced.

Newer models of the Elekta linear accelerator include Versa and the Infinity/Axesse. The VersaHD is still relatively new in terms of linear accelerator world, and many of its components still have yet to be determined for life expectancy. However, looking at earlier models can help gauge these expectations. 

As with all linear accelerators, usage levels will affect the lifespan of the individual components. The main factors that will affect your parts will be humidity levels, patient loads, and dose rates. 

If you need parts to your Elekta linear accelerator, visit Radparts.com. Radparts is the world’s largest independent distributor of OEM replacement parts for linear accelerators and radiation oncology equipment.

Updates on the Radiation Markets with a Focus on LINAC

According to ResearchAndMarkets.com, a marketing research provider to businesses, the global radiation therapy market is expected to reach $10.11 billion in 2024, witnessing growth at CAGR of 3.38% over the period 2020-2024. Surging cancer cases, rising healthcare expenditure, economic and population growth with expanding urbanization are predicted to lead the global radiation therapy markets. However, a hindrance to these areas could be expected with stringent regulations and barriers to implementation. 

Advancements in technology, increasing preference towards non-invasive procedures, and public awareness, could be a few notable trends and are likely to develop over the next few years. The global radiation markets can be categorized into external beam radiation therapy, internal beam radiation therapy, and systemic radiotherapy. The external beam radiation therapy market is segregated both by type and device. 

Depending on the type, the global external beam market is segmented into the following categories: intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT), tomotherapy, stereotactic radiosurgery, stereotactic body radiation therapy, and proton therapy. The global external beam radiation therapy market is also categorized into three areas – LINAC (Linear Accelerators), proton beam therapy devices, and compact advanced therapy devices. 

North America is the fastest-growing market because of the evolving usage in novel technologies, rising disposable income, and healthcare expenses. Rising awareness regarding procedures and sophisticated diagnostic approaches is a big part of the growth in this market. Europe comes in second for the largest market in radiation therapy and has already expanded into deeper economic levels. Radiation therapy treatment products and linear accelerator parts are expected to grow along with the trend in these developing market economies. 

For more information, read more at https://www.itnonline.com/content/radiation-therapy-market-update-focus-linac

Scientists Create a Particle Accelerator That Fits on a Chip

Scientists at Stanford and SLAC have created a silicon chip that can accelerate electrons by using an infrared laser to deliver a similar energy boost that takes microwaves many feet.

In a January issue of Science, a team led by an electrical engineer, Jelena Vuckovic, conveyed how he carved a nanoscale channel out of silicon, sealed it in a vacuum and sent electrons through an opening while beams of infrared light were transmitted by the channel walls to speed the electrons along.

The accelerator-on-a-chip demonstrated in Science is just a prototype. However, Vuckovic said its design and fabrication techniques could be scaled up to deliver particle beams accelerated enough to perform cutting-edge experiments in chemistry.

“The largest accelerators are like powerful telescopes. There are only a few in the world and scientists must come to places like SLAC to use them,” Vuckovic said. “We want to miniaturize accelerator technology in a way that makes it a more accessible research tool.”

“We can derive medical benefits from the miniaturization of accelerator technology in addition to the research applications,” Solgaard said.

Click here to read more about Vuckovic’s research on his discoveries regarding the silicon chip accelerator.

Radiotherapy Treatments for Bowel Cancer Patients to Be Shortened Due to COVID-19

An international panel of cancer experts has recommended a one-week treatment protocol for patients who need radiotherapy. On April 7, 2020, the group discussed the best way to minimize the additional issues that radiotherapy treatment causes, namely, weakened immune systems. Surgery, which usually happens one to two weeks after radiotherapy, can be safely delayed by up to 12 weeks, says the expert panel. 

People with bowel cancer are more susceptible to severe complications from COVID-19 because their immune systems are weakened. Shortening the length of radiotherapy replaces the need for chemotherapy, which typically can make the immune system even weaker. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a global emergency and we needed to work very quickly to identify changes that would benefit patients. Our recommendations were published 20 days after our first meeting. This process normally takes many months, if not years,” said David Sebag-Montefiore, professor of clinical oncology at the University of Leeds and who lead the panel of cancer experts. 

The panel, which was comprised of 15 top cancer professionals, showed that surgery could be safely postponed after radiotherapy from oncology equipment was performed. This protocol allows surgery to be scheduled after the peak of the pandemic. 

Read more on how radiation therapy has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic here

PTW Announces Big News for the BEAMSCAN MR

The PTW has announced the 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the BEAMSCAN MR Motorized 3D Water Phantom. The BEAMSCAN MR is now available on the market within the U.S. PTW has already completed the installation of the first item in North America located at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 

This new addition will provide a dedicated, fully equipped solution for beam data commissioning and annual QA of MR-LINACS. The center in Toronto is one of the largest cancer centers in the world. It is home to two state-of-the-art MR-LINAC systems, one being the Elekta Unity machine, which offers BEAMSCAN MR compatibility. To read more information about the BEAMSCAN MR and PTW, read this article here.

Replacing or Upgrading a LINAC? Here’s What You Need to Know.

Radiotherapy is a critical treatment process used in hospitals and clinics for patients with cancer. Therefore, it is extremely important to ensure that you are using the right equipment to gain the highest quality of care. Linear accelerator (LINAC) systems are one of the most expensive assets in terms of medical equipment today. Choosing to replace or upgrade LINAC equipment is a significant matter as it impacts the facility’s operations, doctor’s decisions, and the patient’s health. There are four main categories that equipment can fall into that are based on a hospital or clinic’s needs and capabilities.

Newer Equipment with Full Upgrades

Being able to provide the best level of care for patients should be the highest goal for any medical facility. Thus, having new equipment with upgraded features offers the best of the best in terms of care. If a clinic needs to move, it would still be cost-effective to pay the relocation charges, which can be over $100k in expenses, instead of purchasing a new replacement LINAC system.

Newer Equipment with Fewer Upgrades

Choosing a LINAC system with fewer upgrades can save money and might be more appropriate for smaller clinics that see fewer patients. However, specific technologies, like portal imaging, may be beneficial for those who want higher-quality devices. There is a good chance that a facility will be continuing to use this equipment for a while before it depreciates. The best advice is to determine which upgrades would be most appropriate for your office.

Older Equipment with Full Upgrades

If your LINAC system is older than 20 years, it’s likely your machine has paid for itself even after additional upgrades. Older equipment can still be reliable, but as technology progresses, they soon will end up costing you more money and become less efficient. Also, if a company needs to relocate, the relocation costs may end up costing you more than a new machine.

Older Equipment with Fewer Upgrades

This remaining category should generally be looked upon as the last consideration. In most cases, equipment will no longer perform the necessary tasks required for treatments. Replacement parts will continue to become sparse and more costly as new machines come into the marketplace, rendering older versions obsolete.

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/.



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.