A Patient's Guide To RTsafe

Fine Tuning Radiation Therapy for Head & Neck Cancers and Brain Tumors

patientsRecent advances in radiation oncology have resulted in more accurate and effective treatments for head and neck cancers and brain tumors than ever before. Radiation oncologists in co-operation with a team of medical physicists and radiation therapists can now plan and deliver treatment resulting in highly selective eradication of tumor cells while minimizing harm to adjacent healthy tissue.

 

All forms of radiotherapy for cancer tread a fine line: on one hand there is a desire to seek out and destroy all the cancer cells. On the other hand we all know that directly alongside a tumour will be healthy tissue that we want to preserve. This fine balance is never more critical than in clinical cases where a dose of radiation just millimeters beyond its intended site can have far-reaching physiological impact. With each new generation of technology radiotherapy becomes more accurate and the chance of ‘collateral damage’ reduces. Yet this form of therapy, by definition, always carries some small risk. So what can we do to further improve effectiveness and reduce risk? The answer, we believe, is simple: to test every radiotherapy procedure on an anatomically perfect facsimile of the patient before the actual treatment is performed.


In so many aspects of life technology is tested or simulated in a totally safe environment – from the oranges used by medics learning how to use hypodermic syringes to the flight simulators used by commercial airline pilots. At RTsafe we believe that the same approach needs to be applied to every single radiotherapy procedure before a patient is treated. The concept is disarmingly simple yet it is only now, following years of painstaking research, that we have been able to produce an accurate model of the human head and brain. Using each patient’s CT scans and deploying highly accurate medical grade 3D-printing technology and the latest ‘3D-dosimetry’, we can now create a unique patient phantom or ‘avatar’ which reacts to radiation in just the same way that human tissue does.


So, each patient’s first treatment is performed on the RTsafe effigy. This ‘virtual patient’ can then be scanned and shows us exactly where radiation has been applied. Doesn’t it make perfect sense to first test a process in an authentic, simulated environment rather than running the risk (however small) of proceeding with a real patient? Treatment centres all over the world can now order our patient avatars from RTsafe’s central production facilities. A unique avatar for each unique patient. All that we require is a full set of current CT scans.

 

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