Linear accelerators are now widely used in treating a variety of cancers. A linear accelerator delivers directed X-rays or electrons to a tumor, destroying cancer cells while ensuring that surrounding tissue is protected. However, this type of radiation still poses risks, so how do manufacturers and operators ensure the safety of patients and operators?

All companies that manufacture linear accelerators have a strict quality control process. Systems are built to confirm that the machine will not deliver a higher dose than that prescribed by the radiation oncologist. Additionally, safety measures are designed into the linear accelerator that ensures it is impossible to turn the machine on without all the treatment conditions being met.

When a linear accelerator is installed, strict requirements must be met for the area it is situated in. For the operational staff’s safety, it is installed in a room lined with lead and concrete, and the controls for turning it on/off are situated outside of this room. Since the machine only emits radiation when turned on, this almost entirely eliminates the risk of accidental exposure.

At the start of each day and before any patient is treated, the radiation therapist makes sure that the linear accelerator is working correctly and performs checks for uniformity of the radiation intensity across the beam. In addition, a medical physicist conducts more detailed monthly and annual checks.

Another essential part of maintaining safety is keeping good records of patient exposure to the linear accelerator. All medical facilities using linear accelerators to treat cancer will ensure their staff are adequately trained and kept updated on the latest guidance on their use and safe limits for patient exposure. Reference:

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