External radiotherapy is a major player in cancer treatment. It is used as a therapy strategy in over 50% of cancer cases. It consists in non-invasively destroying cancerous cells by means of irradiation by high-energy photon or electron beams. In order to minimise the toxicities involved, it is important to spare the healthy tissues and organs wherever possible and specifically target the tumour, which is identified upstream by the radiation oncologist, using scanner imaging technology, MRI or PET/CT.
The new apparatus introduces the concept of high definition radiotherapy and, due to its specific functionalities, is able to deliver a concentrated dose with high precision. Its 2D, 3D and 4D advanced imaging capabilities allow the tumour to be seen before and during irradiation thanks to improved control over the positioning of the radiation beam. This also helps in adapting the treatment plan in case of tumour shrinkage. Thanks to optical tracking, the machine adapts to tumour movements induced by breathing, and stops irradiation in case of patient motion.
Its different specificities and the use of high dose rate beams also result in a significantly reduced treatment time, which presents a considerable advantage for the patient. Furthermore, in order to maintain a high level of quality in care, two medical physicists are in charge of radiation metrology and maintaining equipment performance.
The particle accelerator has been added to the technical facilities of the radio-oncology department, which will be opening its doors in the first half of 2018 and is located in the hospital's new building. The new department will be working in synergy with the oncology department and other medicine specialities in order to offer patients global cancer care.
Dr. Thomas Breuneval, specialist in radio-oncology and radiotherapy
Gregory Bolard, medical physicist