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New developments in radiation therapy

Listen to Philip Poortmans New developments in radiation therapy

Advances in radiation therapy delivery and technology mean that higher doses of radiation therapy can now be specifically directed to regions that need it. Other areas, where the risk of recurrence (return) of the cancer is low, can be protected.

Radiation therapy treatments are now more personalised to each individual patient. They can now take into account tumour and patient-specific factors as well as the influence of other treatments including surgery, chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy.

Currently two of the most important developments in the field of radiation oncology are the:

  • Increase in availability of proton therapy, which is particularly important in the management of some childhood cancers.
  • Advent of the MRI-linear accelerator. This combines an MRI unit with a linear accelerator and allows real-time imaging of the tumour, increasing treatment accuracy.

A Mevions 250 Proton Therapy Machine and an MRI LINAC machine Left: Mevions 250 Proton Therapy Machine. Right: MRI LINAC machine. Credit: Romina.cialdella on Wikicommons and Elekta

However, radiation therapy does not solely rely on these advanced developments. Effective radiation therapy treatment can be delivered to the majority of patients using traditional linear accelerators.

Advanced molecular analyses of patients’ genes can provide valuable information as to what patients are likely to most benefit from a particular treatment. This is known as targeted therapy. Targeted therapies are often combined with radiation therapy in order to maximise the management of a patient’s cancer while minimising side effects and improving quality of life.

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An Introduction to Radiation Oncology: From Diagnosis to Survivorship

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