The aim of radiation therapy treatment is to deliver an optimal dose of radiation to the tumor while minimizing the dose of radiation to the surrounding healthy tissue. Challenges arise because tumors and critical structures (heart, lungs, and etc.) are constantly moving and adapting with normal physiological functions.
To account for motion within the body, Taussig Cancer Institute utilizes Elekta's Active Breathing Coordinator (ABC) - a non invasive devise that under the patient’s control pauses breathing during radiation treatment to halt internal motion - therefore allowing greater conformity of the radiation beam to the tumor.
The Active Breathing Coordinator increases the accuracy of the treatment by enabling reproducible tumor position within the body. The tumor is immobilized during the pause, which allows the clinician to maximize radiation delivery to the tumor, and avoid critical structures and healthy tissue.
Often, only four to six pauses are required for treatment delivery, and the system is designed with patient comfort and confidence in mind.
Ensuring Patient Confidence and Comfort
Throughout treatment the patient remains in control of the Active Breathing Coordinator by depressing a handheld thumb switch. If the pressure is released from the thumb switch at any time, the treatment is stopped and the valve on the Active Breathing Coordinator is opened so the patient can breathe normally again.
A time display in the treatment room lets the patient know how much time remains to maintain his or her breath hold. These features allow patients to take an active part in his or her treatment, and help to reduce the risk of radiation to surrounding structures and healthy tissue.