Thompson Rivers University

Science Seminar Series: Evolution of radiotherapy treatment techniques for cancer patients

TRU  grad Owen Paetkau, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Victoria, presents Evolution of radiotherapy treatment techniques for cancer patients.


Radiation therapy is the treatment of cancer through high doses of radiation to cancerous tissue, and treatment techniques have evolved from treatment of skin cancer with low energy x-rays to treating deeper cancerous regions, such as the prostate, with the high energy photons produced with modern linear accelerators.

As the photons have increased in energy, techniques have been implemented to help reduce damage to the surrounding healthy tissue.

Collimation of radiation and modulation of the beam have improved the ability for physicists to correctly shape the beam to conform to the tumour, however side effects continue to occur.

One of the most common cancer sites in men is prostate cancer, with the treatment causing uncomfortable side effects. A polyethylene glycol hydrogel has been produced to help reduce the side effects within patients and improve quality of life.

However, the cost of the hydrogel may limit implementation clinically. Several predictive models will be presented in this talk to guide radiation oncologists in management of this treatment tool.