A short expression for Linear Accelerators is Linac. Radiation is a high powered x-ray that is produced by Linac machines. These systems are intended to distribute radiation. If an organization wishes to perform radiosurgery or IMRT (intensity modulated radiation therapy) linear accelerators can be tailored. To adapt a universal linac system another piece of equipment is often added.
Linac systems can come as either dedicated or non-dedicated machines.
Dedicated linear accelerator equipment includes extra machines that are connected to the radiation couch to perform advanced level treatments. This is the ideal process to execute a higher level of radiation therapy.
Non-dedicated linac equipment is utilized for more standard radiation treatments. These machines are not able to obtain the accuracy and precision of dedicated linear accelerators. For more general radiation therapy this process is used.
Radiosurgery and radiation therapy are both procedures that can be completed using linear accelerator machines.
Radiosurgery is often completed by a radiation oncologist and neurosurgeon in one surgical process. The process usually is completed in one day following a specific formula that includes immobilization, scans, plans and the actual procedure. This course of action includes giving radiation in a single dose. The dose that the tumor is given includes more radiation then it would receive with radiation therapy.
Radiation therapy gives tumors less radiation over a period of time. The radiation is distributed to a larger area that includes healthy areas. Treatment usually is done over the course of two to five sessions.
Many professionals argue that radiation therapy offers a more permanent result and fewer side effects then radiosurgery. The argument is that a smaller dose of radiation delivered over a course of time, instead of one large dose given in one dose, results in greater control of the tumor resulting in better outcomes than are found in radiosurgery. It is believed that multiple treatments cause less damage to the tissue surrounding the tumor even thought the total amount of radiation is more than the dose given in radiosurgery. Larger doses of radiation given in a single treatment may permit the tumor to grow.
Cancers in the body and larger brain are more properly targeted using the linac technology that cannot be treated within the one session of a large dose of radiation that radiosurgery performs. Cancers within the brain better utilize radiosurgery where one session of radiation offers superior treatment results. Cancers in the brain does not benefit from multiple radiation doses. Multiple doses can often mean that there is less control and more permanent side effects.