Linear Accelerator Treatment in New Jersey
Linear accelerator treatment is a form of targeted radiation therapy. Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics offers linear accelerator treatment for patients with spine and brain tumors. Backed by extensive expertise and state-of-the-art medical technology, CNSO’s team of award-winning surgeons offers advanced treatments and therapies for patients throughout Northern New Jersey. Learn more about linear accelerator treatment and how it is used on cancerous and noncancerous abnormalities.
How a Linear Accelerator Machine Works
A linear accelerator machine (often referred to as LINAC) is used to perform stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS). LINAC delivers a type of radiation called external beam radiation therapy and treats tumors using high-energy X-rays (photons). With pinpoint accuracy, the machine allows the specialist to target the affected area and safely avoid surrounding healthy tissue. Radiation is administered in a precise dose, and safeguards are in place to ensure the dose is administered at the appropriate strength.
This is one of the most common types of radiation therapy used in treating brain and spinal tumors. Unlike other types of radiation therapy machines, such as the Gamma Knife, LINAC machines move around the patient during treatment. This mobility allows radiation therapists to attack a tumor from multiple angles and effectively treat larger areas. Some common types of LINAC systems include the following:
The CyberKnife system can be used to treat tumors in the brain, spine, and other areas of the body. Using real-time image guidance and robotic technology, specialists can concentrate the radiation to the tumor and attack it from all possible angles.
The TrueBeam radiotherapy system is designed for treating cancer just about anywhere in the body. The flexible machinery provides a variety of treatment options that address specific cancerous areas, as well as advanced imaging options for streamlined operation.
Novalis shaped-beam radiosurgery is used to deliver an even dose of highly localized radiation to brain tumors. The Novalis system produces radiation with a high level of dosage accuracy and allows the specialist to target the affected area while the surrounding tissue receives a minimal amount of radiation.
While each system offers its own set of features and benefits unique to the manufacturer or brand, the overall technology operates with a similar goal in mind. It is often recommended for patients with inoperable or complex tumors that would otherwise be difficult to treat using surgery. Patients may be candidates for this type of radiation therapy if they have been diagnosed with:
- Vestibular schwannomas
- Pituitary adenomas
Treatment is typically administered in several sessions, and the medical team monitors the progress of each patient over time. Depending on the outcome, the CNSO team may recommend additional therapies and treatment options that may suit a patient’s evolving needs.
Preparing for Linear Accelerator Treatment
Before a patient receives radiation treatment, their radiation therapy team will conduct a simulation to prepare and customize the patient’s treatment plan. First, therapists position the patient so that they can target a tumor as effectively as possible while ensuring that the patient is comfortable enough to remain still. Patients with brain tumors are often fitted with a face mold or mask to help keep them in a stable position. The radiation therapists will also place temporary markings on the patient’s body to help reposition them on the day of treatment. Next, they’ll perform a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or a computed tomography (CT) scan to map out a course of care.
On the day of a patient’s procedure, the actual treatment will only take a few minutes. However, the entire procedure can last longer because the patient needs to be positioned precisely. The radiation therapy team may take additional imaging on the day of treatment. The team won’t be in the room with the patient while radiation is administered, but they can communicate via intercom and observe the patient throughout the entire process.
During treatment, the LINAC machine may rotate around the patient and emit a beeping noise. However, the patient won’t be able to feel the radiation and the procedure isn’t painful. Radiation therapists may come in and out of the room to reposition the machine or the patient. After treatment, patients can typically resume normal activities.
Possible Side Effects of Linear Accelerator Treatment
Patients who receive radiation treatment via linear accelerator may experience side effects. If a patient’s tumor is located in the head or neck, they can have the following side effects from radiation:
- Dry mouth
- Esophagitis (a condition where the lining of the esophagus becomes inflamed and sore)
- Hair loss
- Nausea and loss of appetite
- Mouth sores
- Difficulty swallowing
- Scalp inflammation and dryness
These symptoms are common and many start going away after treatment is complete. It’s important to note that side effects may vary from patient to patient depending on their condition, the location of treatment, and other factors. Patients undergoing radiation therapy should take extra care of themselves before and after treatment.
Along with taking care of their physical health, it’s important to get plenty of sleep, minimize stress, and seek counseling for mental health support as a significant diagnosis can lead to depression or anxiety. Patients may also need to take some time off from work or school to get the rest and care they need.
Learn More from Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics
CNSO’s experienced medical team is committed to helping each patient find the best treatments and therapies available. The doctors at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics take the time to understand each patient’s specific diagnosis and medical history and recommend a course of treatment that’s the most appropriate for them. For more information about linear accelerator treatment offered throughout New Jersey, request an appointment today at one of CNSO’s locations in Bergen, Passaic, Essex, Morris, or Hudson counties.