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TrueBeam STx System - Frequently Asked Questions
Does radiosurgery expose people to radioactive substances?
Many people, when they hear the word "radiation" think immediately of radioactive substances. However, no radioactive substances are involved in the creation of the beam by a medical linear accelerator. When a linear accelerator is switched "on," radiation is produced and aimed directly at cancer cells. Then, like a flashlight, when the system is switched off, radiation is no longer emitted by the system.
What happens when a person is treated with radiosurgery?
Radiosurgery treatment, including TrueBeam STx treatment, involves three basic steps: visualization of the tumor, the planning of the individual treatment and the delivery of the treatment.
After their diagnosis, the our medical physicists generates three-dimensional diagnostic images (usually CT or MRI) of the tumor and the area around it. They then use these images to specify the dose of radiation needed to treat the tumor. Our physicians will work with our physicists to plan an individualized treatment. After this, individualized TrueBeam STx treatments can be delivered according to a schedule specific to the treatment plan.
During a TrueBeam STx treatment, the linear accelerator can rotate around the patient to deliver the radiation. The radiation is shaped and reshaped as it is delivered from many different angles. Most treatments usually take only a few minutes a day.
Who are the professionals a patient may typically encounter?
There are several specialists that our patients will work with during their treatment:
- The radiation oncologist is a doctor who has had special training in using radiation to treat diseases and prescribes the type and amount of treatment. The radiation oncologist may work closely with other doctors and the rest of the healthcare team.
- A medical physicist participates in the planning process and ensures that the machines deliver the right dose of radiation.
- A dosimetrist plans the treatment with the oncologist and the physicist.
- A radiation therapy nurse provides nursing care and may help the patient learn about treatment or how to manage any side effects.
- A radiation therapist positions the patient for treatment and operates the equipment that delivers the radiation.
How long is a course of treatment on a TrueBeam STx system?
The delivery of a patient's treatments varies depending on the diagnosis, so ask the medical professional for information about their specific diagnosis. Generally, radiosurgery is completed in just one to five treatment sessions over several weeks.
Does a person become radioactive after treatment?
External radiosurgery does not cause anyone's body to become radioactive. A patient need not avoid being with other people because of treatment. Even hugging, kissing, or having sexual relations with others poses no risk to them of radiation exposure.
Side effects of radiosurgery most often are related to the area that is being treated. A patient should consult with their medical professional to discuss the specific diagnosis, prognosis and possible side effects* from treatment.
Is a treatment on the TrueBeam STx system expensive?
Treatment of cancer with radiation can be costly. It requires very complex equipment and the services of many healthcare professionals. The exact cost of the radiation therapy will depend on the type and number of treatments you need.
Many health insurance policies cover charges for radiosurgery. It's a good idea to talk with the insurer or with our office staff about your insurance policy and how expected costs will be paid.
What is unique about radiosurgery using Varians TrueBeam STx system?
The main advantages of Varian's TrueBeam STx are ease, precision and speed. Thanks to its unprecedented accuracy, the TrueBeam STx system can be used to treat some tumors in sensitive areas such as the prostate, lung, head & neck, brain, and spine.
Treatments focus powerful radiation on the tumor while minimizing exposure of surrounding healthy tissues. TrueBeam STx was designed from its inception to seamlessly integrate sophisticated imaging and radiation delivery systems. What this means for patients is accuracy, speed and comfort. What it means for medical professionals is the ability to treat many different types of complex conditions.
*The TrueBeam STx system may not be appropriate for all cancers and all patients. Serious side effects can occur, including fatigue and skin irritation. Treatment times may vary. Patients should ask our physicians if TrueBeam STx is right for their particular case.
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