What is Radiotherapy?
WHAT IS RADIOTHERAPY & HOW DOES IT WORK?
Radiotherapy is the use of exact, carefully measured doses of radiation to damage the DNA within abnormal cells and destroy their ability to reproduce. These cells are then naturally eliminated by the body. It is a complex process involving many steps, personnel and equipment. Radiation therapy is prescribed by a consultant Radiation Oncologist and given by highly skilled Radiation Therapists, who use special machines called Linear Accelerators which produce different types of radiation. The accuracy with which each step of the process is carried out has a major impact on both the prospect of tumour control/cure and the attendant risk of normal tissue complication/patient side effects.
Radiation therapy is a very useful and effective way to treat cancer. Depending on the patients diagnosis it may be used as the primary treatment or in conjunction with other treatments modalities such as surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and immunotherapy.
Initial consultation with your Radiation Oncologist
Planning, Dosimetry and Quality Assurance Checks
Radiation Treatment and Care
Simulation often called “marking” is done to decide on the exact location for treatment. It is necessary to localise the treatment site and surrounding critical organs, this information is obtained via a planning CT scan. This differs from a diagnostic CT scan in that the patient is scanned in the optimum treatment position which can be reproduced on a daily basis. This information is then sent to a comprehensive 3 Dimensional planning system. This is known as virtual simulation where an entire treatment plan can be produced using the one CT scan.
Ongoing studies have highlighted the advance of PET/CT as a prime modality for the localisation of some tumour sites. This procedure has been introduced recently as part of our ongoing technological advances within the department.
PLANNING, DOSIMENTRY AND QUALITY ASSURANCE CHECKS
To determine the intensity, duration and position of the radiation beams a comprehensive 3-Dimensional computer planning system is utilized by a team of radiation dosimetrists to achieve the most optimal plan. The 3-D system enables complete visualization of structures within the body allowing for accurate and precise planning. Beam shaping devices and multi leaf collimators (MLC’s) are utilized to shield out critical organs surrounding the target volume to produce a homogenous tumour dose. All data is transferred via DICOM to the linear accelerator including Digitally Reconstructed Radiographs produced from the CT scan which are used for treatment verification. Radiation Dosimetry and Physics Quality assurance is maintained at each phase of the treatment process.
The Galway Clinic recently introduced the delivery of Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT). IMRT is an advance in conformal radiotherapy whereby complex shaped tumour volumes can be treated to high doses whilst sparing surrounding structures.
To receive further information about radiotherapy and for consultants contact details, please telephone the radiotherapy reception : 091-785551 or fax 091-785573