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Linear accelerator for radiation treatment

St. Joseph Health is the first system in the Brazos Valley to bring radiation oncology to the community, leading the way in cancer care. With the addition of the new linear accelerator to St. Joseph Health Cancer Center, we are able to provide our community with state-of-the-art technology and the most up-to-date treatment practices. Patients no longer need to travel out of town with compassionate and personalized cancer treatment right around the corner.

Radiation therapy is a type of treatment that uses beams of energy to damage cancer cells. Radiation oncologists use radiation to treat many different types of cancer. Radiation therapy is also useful in treating some noncancerous (benign) tumors. Radiation therapy may be used for different purposes and at different times during cancer treatment, including:

  • As the only treatment for cancer (definitive)

  • Before surgery, to shrink a cancer (neoadjuvant)

  • After surgery, to stop the growth of any remaining cancer (adjuvant)

  • In combination with other treatments, such as chemotherapy (concurrent chemoradiation)

  • In advanced cancer to alleviate symptoms caused by cancer (palliation)

 

The linear accelerator (LINAC) is a machine that aims radiation at cancer with pinpoint accuracy and avoids radiating the surrounding healthy tissue. A LINAC helps radiation oncologists treat many different types of cancers in various parts of the body. LINAC machines are used to deliver several types of radiation, including intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT), and stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS).

St. Joseph Health is using technological advancements for more precise treatment. There are two LINAC machines at St. Joseph Health. The newest machine, a Varian Edge, is equipped with cutting-edge and state-of-the-art technology.

​​The Varian Edge is capable of stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), which is a noninvasive type of radiation therapy that uses highly focused radiation beams to get rid of tumors in the brain and spine. This is an outpatient procedure and is effective at treating tumors that are difficult to reach and cannot be surgically removed. The procedure typically lasts 30 minutes to one hour. The SRS treatment plan is tailored to each individual cancer type and needs.

Typically an outpatient procedure, radiosurgery with LINAC rids the need for hospital stays or incisions often seen with surgery. Other benefits include:

  • Tumor targeting and treatment from nearly any angle.

  • Real-time tracking system that allows physicians to detect slight tumor movements.

  • Treatment needs vary from case to case, in some instances a patient may receive one treatment and in others 5. 

Frequently asked questions

The device is commonly used for external beam radiation treatments for patients with different forms of cancer. It delivers high-energy X-rays to a targeted area of the patient’s tumor. This treatment style is designed to get rid of cancer cells and keep the surrounding cells left unharmed. 

Photons are a higher energy version of the same X-rays used for diagnostic imaging. These high-energy X-rays can be pointed at a part of the body where a cancer is located and, through a series of interactions inside of the body, they break the DNA inside the cancer cell, rendering it unable to repair or copy itself. 

Nearly every type of cancer. At St. Joseph Health Cancer Center, the Linear Accelerator treats breast, prostate, brain, and lung cancers just to name a few.

A radiation oncologist prescribes the dose and oversees the treatment with a linear accelerator. A dosimetrist operates the software to create the radiation plan, while a physicist oversees proper calibration of the linear accelerator. A radiation therapist operates the machine. Radiation therapy is a true team-based approach, and all parties involved collaborate to provide the best possible treatment.

This technology monitors the patient’s movements and breathing patterns in real-time, assisting in the patient’s safety and radiation dosage.

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Plan a visit with a pioneering St. Joseph Health radiation oncologist to discuss further questions on this radiotherapy treatment option. In need of a wellness checkup? Schedule an in-person or virtual visit with a primary care physician. 

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