More than half of cancer patients in the U.S. undergo radiation therapy. Most of these treatments would not be possible without a machine called a linear accelerator (LINAC).
Linear accelerators have been used to treat cancer since the 1950s. There are different types of LINAC machines, but they all have one thing in common. They send radiation, such as X-rays or electron beams, through your body and into your tumor. This is known as “external beam radiation.”
Today’s machines are often equipped with 3-D imaging capabilities like CT scanning. Most use special software that can “match” radiation beams to the size and shape of your tumor. This means external beam radiation is safer, by being more precise than ever before.
LINAC machines deliver several types of radiation therapy. These include:
The type of radiation therapy you’ll need depends on several factors. These include the size and location of your tumor, what organs are near the tumor and whether you also need other cancer treatments.
Radiation therapy using a LINAC can treat a broad range of cancers. These include brain and spine tumors, and cancers of the head and neck, lung, breast, esophagus, stomach, rectum, uterus, prostate, bladder, liver, and bones.
External beam radiation may be the only treatment you need, or it may be combined with other treatments such as chemotherapy or cancer surgery.
Your Mercy care team will make sure you understand what to expect before, during and after radiation therapy using a LINAC. Different treatments have different requirements. For example:
If you have questions or concerns about external beam radiation or the LINAC machine, please talk to one of your Mercy caregivers. We are ready to help you beat your cancer with advanced technology and the most compassionate, expert care.