How Do Linear Accelerators & CT Scanners Work In Cancer Treatment?

Cancerous cells in the body grow and divide rapidly.  Faster in fact than ordinary treatment machines can handle. The level of growth in cancer cells is in high proportion compared to the growth of healthy cells around the same area. The cancerous cells are developing quickly and in no time at all will turn into tumors causing excruciating pains and discomfort to the patient. For this reason, a special treatment machine, a linear accelerator, is needed to stem the advancement of the cancer cell and protect healthy cells from fallen victims during treatment.  This radiation equipment is often referred to as LINAC systems and work with CT scanners to treat and detect areas of the body affected by cancer cells.

Targeting Cancer

Linear accelerators & CT scanners use a focused beam of energy to destroy cancerous cells while avoiding healthy tissues in surrounding areas from damage. The machine aims at delivering targeted treatment through the generation of energy-intensive beams delivered from different angles to focus on the parts affected by the tumor to pass a precision quantity of radiation energy to treat cancer patients.

Before commencing treatment with linear accelerators, the treatment plan will involve different types of 3-D scans of the body such as CT scanners, PET scan or MRI. These scans and some other test results conducted by the radiation oncologist and a team of treatment experts will determine the best technique suitable for each case.

How Cancer Treatments Work

Linear accelerators or LINAC works by using image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT) which involves applying a variety of digital imaging technology to locate the exact location of the tumor in the patient’s body and target the area for treatment. This advanced, precision-driven radiation therapy is used worldwide to battle the scourge of cancers globally. The exciting part of this equipment is its ability to locate and treat a dynamic ailment as cancer which is known to shift from time to time, and therefore LINAC uses powerful precision target radiation beam energy to pinpoint the exact location of a tumor and destroys it with minimal damage to healthy cells.

Linear accelerators use photons (X-rays) to deliver IGRT radiation. The machine is about 15 feet long and stands nearly nine feet tall which rotates around the patient with great precision. LINAC uses microwave energy, just like what is used in satellite TV transmission to accelerate electrons at almost the speed of light. Upon getting to the highest rate, the electrons collide with a tungsten target and releases photons.

3 Steps Of Treatment

Cancer treatment involves three steps: diagnosis, treatment planning, and treatment delivery. The starting stage – diagnosis, uses the CT scanners to pinpoint the exact location of the tumor, the planning stage is using simulation to confirm the precise location of the cancer cells further because it will require radiation beam for treatment and it is essential to avoid killing healthy cells. Once the cancer cells are localized, the radiation treatment plan is concluded, and treatment delivery will commence.

Treatment delivery is a highly coordinated effort to ensure maximum impact. It could be 5 days per week schedule which may last for nine weeks or so. Due to the seriousness and highly sensitive nature of cancer treatment, using linear accelerators require intensive treatment preparations involving CT scanners and other diagnostic tools to ascertain the exact position of cancer cells before delivering the therapy.

Acceletronics is an independent service company dedicated to delivering the best equipment performance and service reliability from Linear Accelerators and CT Scanners across all major brands and models. Learn more about Acceletronics and their selection of new and refurbished linear accelerators and CT scanners today at  To contact one of our LINAC experts call 610.524.3300.

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