Radiation Therapy (RT) is provided at the newly expanded Townsville Cancer Centre (TCC) located within the Townsville University Hospital. Radiation therapy is the use of high energy X-rays to treat cancer. It works by damaging the DNA of cells, preventing cancer cells from being able to repair themselves and invading healthy tissue. Radiation therapy is localised treatment, therefore it will generally only affect the part of the body which is receiving treatment. Radiation therapy treatment is mostly delivered over a few days or weeks. Patients are usually treated as outpatients and majority of patients are only in the department for half an hour to an hour.
Radiation therapists are involved in the simulation, dosimetry planning, treatment and overall care of patients receiving radiation therapy treatment. Simulation is the process of obtaining the required data to complete the treatment planning process. This involves determining the optimal position to treat the patient in, often with the use of immobilization devices to keep the patient still. A CT scan is then performed of the treatment area.
Dosimetry is where a patient’s treatment plan is created. Working in conjunction with radiation oncologists, radiation therapists design and tailor the radiation beam to deliver the maximum dose to the tumour volume without damaging the surrounding tissue.
Treatment is conducted with the use of linear accelerators. Radiation therapists use these state-of-the-art machines to deliver daily treatments with sub-millimetre accuracy. All linear accelerators are named after islands: Lindeman, Pelorus, Hayman and Mornington. The next linear accelerator to be installed is the Elekta Unity which has MRI capability. Townsville Cancer Centre will be the first centre in Australasia to have this machine installed.
Along with the simulation, planning and treatment of cancer patients, radiation therapists regularly conduct research, leading or participating in studies at a local, national or international level. They are also involved with the testing and implementation of new technologies, working in conjunction with international companies. Radiation therapy provides the opportunity to become a specialist in a desired area while still maintaining competency in all others.
The Townsville Cancer Centre’s radiation therapy department holds guided tours through the radiation therapy department to any interested members of the public. Visitors are able to view the department, see various equipment and gain an insight on the radiation therapy process. This evening is hosted by the radiation therapist and anyone can attend.
When: First Thursday of every month
Time: 6:30pm – 7:30pm
Where: Townsville Cancer Centre – Radiation Therapy Department
The Townsville Cancer Centre
East Wing of the Townsville University Hospital
100 Angus Smith Drive
Douglas QLD 4814
Ph: (07) 4433 1663
Townsville University Hospital
PO Box 670
Townsville QLD 4810