A linear accelerator, or LINAC, is a machine that is commonly used to deliver external beam radiation treatments to cancer patients. To meet a patient’s specific needs, a radiation oncologist will work with a dosimetrist and a medical physicist to develop an individualized treatment plan, including an appropriate radiation treatment delivery method, schedule and dosage. The medical professional who operates the LINAC is known as a radiation therapist.
For the customized delivery of radiation therapy, a linear accelerator is programmed prior to each session to deliver high-energy X-rays that conform to the specific size, shape and location of a tumor. In this way, the LINAC can target and destroy cancerous cells in a precise area of a patient’s body with minimal exposure to the surrounding healthy tissue. To ensure patient safety, a linear accelerator has several built-in protective measures designed to prevent the delivery of dosages in excess of the prescribed amount. Additionally, each machine is routinely checked for proper operation. For instance, using a device called a tracker, a radiation therapist can confirm that the intensity of the radiation beam is consistent.
A linear accelerator can be used to treat cancer in virtually any area of the body. It can also be used to execute a variety of radiation delivery techniques, including:
- Conventional external beam radiation therapy
- Intensity modulated radiation therapy
- Image guided radiation therapy
- Stereotactic body radiation therapy
Targeted delivery techniques for radiation therapy are key to improving patient outcomes and quality of life. However, even the most advanced linear accelerator requires skillful operation to achieve the best results. At Moffitt Cancer Center, our multispecialty team has extensive experience in developing, simulating and executing radiation therapy plans for patients with all types of cancer. Moreover, each team member specializes in treating a specific type of cancer, so our patients are able to work with skilled professionals who truly understand the nuances of their conditions.
For more information on how radiation therapy is delivered through a linear accelerator (LINAC), call 1-888-663-3488 or request an appointment by completing a new patient registration form online. We do not require referrals.