Varian Halcyon™ Radiotherapy
Beacon International Specialist Centre will be the 1st Southeast Asia hospital to introduce Varian Halcyon 2.0 machine to its cancer patients. It can be used to treat head & neck, lung, breast, prostate, cervix and other forms of cancer.
This new radiotherapy machine improves treatment time considerably (treatment time can be as short as 1 minute plus) with its streamlined workflow of 9 steps from start to finish.
On to the safety aspect, it received United States FDA 510(k) clearance in June 2017.
- Fast – Beam-on time could be as fast as 1 minute plus*.
- Accurate – The unique design of dual-layer multi–leaf collimator (MLC) enables accurate delivery of the radiation dose to the tumour.
- Reduces unwanted radiation dose – The reduction in interleaf leakage helps to reduce unwanted radiation dose to critical structures, thus, minimising side effects.
- Alleviates anxiety – A quick and quiet treatment helps to reduce anxiety in patient.
- Maximises comfort -A spacious 100cm diameter bore with integrated ambient lighting puts claustrophobic patient at ease. Couch descends low to the ground for easy loading and unloading of the patient.
- Improved safety – The integrated couch-mounted camera travels with the patient, enabling the radiographer to clearly monitor the patient during the treatment.
Note: *depends on types of tumour
Preparations for the radiotherapy treatment:
Once the radiation oncologist has decided this treatment is suitable for you, the planning stage begins whereby imaging scans are taken first to determine the size, shape and location of the tumour. The site of treatment will be immobilised using devices such as face mask, vac-lock or breast boards depending on the site.
Do inform the medical team, if you have any metal implants in your body like titanium dental implant, pedicle screws or medical devices such as cochlear implant and pacemaker, so that these can be taken into account during imaging and when developing the plan. A careful treatment plan is designed to ensure you are receiving the right radiation dose.
During each session of treatment
When the set-up position is ascertained by the radiographer, stay still while remaining relaxed. After the initial set-up, each session is divided into two phases, imaging and treatment. In the imaging stage, the radiographer will confirm the set-up position is correct through the auto-match image registration feature. After that, the treatment begins. With its improved gantry speed and multi-leaf collimator, the prescribed radiation dose can be delivered in a matter of minutes.
After treatment, you can usually go home on the same day. You would have weekly reviews with the oncologist during the entire course of treatment to ensure you are coping well with the treatment and any side-effects (if any). It could take days, weeks or months to notice any change in the cancer. The nurse would arrange for follow-up appointments, so that the doctor is able to monitor on your progress and response to treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions:
i) What is the difference between Varian Halcyon and other radiotherapy machines?
Introduced in 2017, Varian Halcyon is the latest radiotherapy machine which delivers treatment fast, accurately and is built with patient comfort and safety in mind. For example, a 2 partial arc RapidArc lung treatment session can be completed in approximately 2 minutes (imaging – 15 seconds and treatment – 1 minute 30 seconds). The dual-layer multi-leaf collimator comes with a stacked and staggered design, with interleaf leakage of 0.01%, which means the risk of unnecessary radiation to healthy tissue nearby is low. Other multi-leaf collimator systems are reported to have leakages of up to 4% (Practical Radiation Oncology, 2014).
ii) How many radiotherapy sessions are needed?
Your radiation oncologist will advise on exactly how many treatment sessions you need for your condition. Typically, radiotherapy is given once a day, five times a week for 5-7 weeks and takes a few minutes in the machine each day of treatment.
iii) Will there be side-effects after the treatment?
The side effects vary depending on the body area being treated with radiotherapy. Common side effects you may experience include fatigue, nausea, and skin changes. Your consultant will elaborate more on these and other side effects that you might experience
iv) When can I resume my daily activities after undergoing radiotherapy?
Some may feel fatigue, shortly after treatment, while others only feel it after a few sessions of radiotherapy. You can resume your daily activities if you do not feel tired and your doctor has given you the clearance to do so.
For more information and treatment using Varian Halcyon, please click on the video thumbnails below:
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