Recent Technology Advancements
Advances in photon (X-ray) therapy
X-rays have been used to treat cancer since 1895. Since then researchers around the world have kept advancing the technologies used in radiation therapy. The goal is to deliver prescribed radiation dose to a well-defined treatment area while minimizing exposure to healthy tissue, ultimately to improve the survival rate and patients’ quality of life.
The advancing areas include:
Development of linear accelerators that produce high-energy x-rays for deeper penetration
Blocking techniques were developed to contour the beam to conform to the size and shape of the tumor target
Multiple beams and angles are used to adapt the dose to the tumor and to reduce the dose to healthy organs
Advances in imaging have allowed for improved ability to define the tumors
Four dimensional imaging allows measurement of motion of both tumor and normal structures during treatment
Changes in tumor size and shape during treatment can be corrected for use by adaptive radiotherapy techniques
Faster and more powerful computers allow for more accurate dose calculations and the delivery of intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and volumetric arc therapy (VMAT)
Improved patient and organ immobilization devices, along with imaging during treatment to detect patient, organ, and tumor motion (image-guided radiotherapy) enhance the accuracy of treatment delivery.
Particle Beam Radiation Therapy Read More...
In the last 10 years, a different type of external radiation, called particle therapy has become more readily available. This radiation is generated by machines called cyclotrons or synchrotrons. Particle therapy currently includes protons (hydrogen ions) or carbon ions and has certain advantages in better focusing the radiation on the cancer. Particle therapy is indicated in treating most pediatric cancer and an increasing number of adult cancers.
Beams of protons or heavier ions can be accelerated to precisely calculated energies and can be accurately targeted to tumors, which may be large or very small and may be dangerously shaped or positioned – surrounding the spinal cord, for example, or close to the optic nerve, or in the center of the brain. Due to their physical and biological properties, ion beams can target the tumor cells with precision, while minimizing damage to surrounding tissues.