Radiation Therapist and patient in Radiation Suite
Did you know, recent Our Cancer Campaign donations helped fund one of the biggest, and most important, pieces of equipment our cancer experts use every day?
It’s true! One of Our Cancer Campaign’s highest priorities was the replacement of a Linear Accelerator at the R.S. McLaughlin Durham Regional Cancer Centre (DRCC).
We caught up with oncology staff to learn more about the newest Linear Accelerator or LINAC machine, how it works and its impact on cancer care in this community.
According to Christine Black, Patient Care Manager, Radiation Therapy at the DRCC, LINAC machines help provide radiation therapy, one of the most common forms of treatment for cancer patients.
The LINAC provides external or beam radiation therapy using intricate machinery to process precise measurements, down to the millimetre, and directs high-energy radiation at cancerous tumours in the body. These measurements also help limit the exposure to surrounding organs and tissue.
But so much happens before patients even see the LINAC.
“A patient’s first visit is a planning appointment,” says Christine. “The patient will have imaging done for part of the planning process, which uses CT and MRI. Imaging determines the location of the treatment and helps determine the best position for the patient.”
The team at Lakeridge Health takes the data from the planning appointment and uses additional equipment to calculate exactly where the radiation should be focused on the patient’s body. Staff members also review the data to identify the radiation target and surrounding organs that need to be protected from the treatment.
“We outline all of those organs and tell the system which areas need to be treated and which need to be avoided,” explains Christine. “Our planning team evaluates everything and makes any necessary changes to it. Then it’s reviewed by our physics team to make sure it’s accurate and deliverable.”
During treatment, patients are seen by their Radiation Therapist who uses the LINAC’s imaging equipment to align the beam with the treatment area.
Treatments can range anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. There are a number of variables, including the area and radiation dosage. Patients can also have multiple areas treated in the same session.
The DRCC provides 40,000 radiation treatments per year and is one of the top-rated Cancer Centre’s in all of the province. Patients in Durham Region find comfort in knowing such high-quality equipment and expert care is close to home.
“Donor support is incredibly important for bringing in new, and maintaining current, equipment,” explains Christine. “It helps us do what we need to do for patients and ensure our team has the best equipment available to them. Donor generosity is very much appreciated by our staff and patients.”
The new LINAC is one of 7 machines providing radiation treatment in the Cancer Centre. It will run for 10 hours every day, five days a week and see approximately 30 patients a day. That equates to 7,800 radiation treatments in its first year!
On behalf of the cancer patients and their families who rely on Christine, her team and the entire hospital for exceptional cancer care - thank you!
To support Our Cancer Campaign and help impact on patients in this community visit www.OurCancer.ca.