NMMC was the first in Mississippi to offer treatment using RapidArc radiotherapy technology from Varian Medical Systems. RapidArc is a fast, precise form of treatment that is delivered eight times faster than is possible with conventional radiation therapy technologies. By delivering radiation doses more quickly and with great accuracy, NMMC clinicians can simultaneously improve the quality of care while making patients more comfortable.
Physicians at NMMC use image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT) treatment for cancer patients that offers advanced imaging to more precisely locate tumors at the moment of treatment.
This technology from Varian Medical Systems combines imaging and treatment on one machine, providing fast and accurate adaptive radiotherapy treatments that deliver high doses of radiation directly to cancer cells while minimizing the dose to surrounding healthy tissues. Radiation oncologists have previously had to deal with variations in patient position and target motion by including a margin of healthy tissue around the tumor to account for variation in daily positioning.
Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy
This radiotherapy system, which includes two linear accelerators, is capable of delivering IMRT (Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy).
NMMC's clinicians use the SmartBeam IMRT system from Varian Medical Systems to treat patients with certain types of cancer with precisely placed beams that can be focused to carefully target tumor cells. The enhanced doses increase the likelihood that a tumor will be completely eradicated.
Before beginning your treatment, a course of radiation therapy will be specifically designed for you and your disease. To do this, you will undergo a treatment planning CT. This is unlike a diagnostic CT you might have received elsewhere.
It is often necessary to create a device used to position your body. These devices could include body molds, a mask or special pads. After the scan, ink marks may be placed on your body or mask. Generally, your next appointment will be approximately one week from your treatment
During this time, your radiation oncologist, dosimetrists and physicists will
use data from your CT image to design and verify your personalized treatments.
Radiation treatments are usually given Monday through Friday, not on the weekends. In general, treatments can last from two to eight weeks depending on the doctor’s orders. You will be at Radiation Oncology approximately 30 minutes every day.
You will be positioned on the treatment table by your therapist every day for treatment. Images will be taken and verified that your position has not changed. You will not feel, see or taste anything during your treatment. You will hear a slight buzzing sound and see the machine rotate around you. The machine will not touch you. You will not be radioactive after your treatment; therefore, you can be around other people, including children and pregnant women. You will not feel any different after your first treatment. If symptoms occur during the course of your treatments, please inform your nurse or therapist.
Side effects depend on the location of the cancer and the amount of radiation you need and may include:
- Depression and fatigue
- Dry and irritated skin
- Nausea and vomiting
- Painful urination
- Diarrhea and
- Dry, painful mouth.
Most side effects last only a short time and will go away after treatments are complete.