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What is RapidArc® radiation therapy?

RapidArc® radiation therapy is a technique that combines intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) with rotational arc delivery on the linear accelerator. The treatment consists of 360-degree rotation of the accelerators gantry with the beam focused on the target. This dynamic use of software and hardware makes for the most sophisticated treatment delivery technologies.

During treatment, the radiation beams are consistently shaped to conform to the shape of the tumor as the linear accelerator rotates around the patient. Each treatment is typically completed in less than two minutes. Treatment speed is important because it reduces the amount of time that the patient must remain still and avoid movement.

Why it's done

RapidArc allows for a higher dose of radiation to be used to destroy cancer cells while sparing healthy tissue from damage. This technology is significantly faster than conventional radiation therapy and more targeted. Patients typically have fewer side effects from radiation delivered via RapidArc.

RapidArc is used for patients with prostate, lung, spine, brain, head and neck cancers.

Our approach

At Northwell Health Cancer Institute, RapidArc is among the many advanced technologies we use to treat cancer while minimizing damage to healthy tissue. By utilizing RapidArc, our physicians are enabling patients to be more comfortable during radiation treatment by reducing the time involved in treatment and minimizing side effects while enabling the best possible outcomes.

All radiotherapies, including those using RapidArc, are offered in a caring and professional environment by staff who are dedicated to making each patient visit as informative and stress-free as possible. This begins with an in-depth conversation describing the treatment, including what to expect, possible side effects and goals. The personalized treatment also includes careful consideration of current health, family history, age and patient preferences.

All radiation therapies are administered using evidence-based medicine. A multidisciplinary team of doctors, including radiologists, surgeons, pathologists, medical oncologists and radiology oncologists, collaborates on treatment plans to ensure that every aspect of treatment is precisely coordinated for the best possible outcome. This includes ongoing peer review and chart rounds.

Because convenience is a priority, we offer multiple locations for radiation therapy to enable you to obtain treatment near where you live or work. 

Research at Northwell

Advances in radiation oncology are continuously happening here. With innovations in radiation therapy technology and techniques, we continue to improve outcomes. Through alliances with leading research organizations, including Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, we participate in investigator-initiated trials to offer the most leading-edge therapies to patients. The ongoing focus on improving cancer treatments has contributed to significant advancements that are improving the quality of lives and increasing the number of cancer survivors.

Learn more about clinical trials and research happening at Northwell Health Cancer Institute.

What to expect

Prior to treatment with RapidArc, your team will generate 3D images of your anatomy, typically using CT and/or PET scans. These images are used to plan and deliver the radiation dose.

During treatment, the radiation beams are consistently shaped to conform to the shape of the tumor as the RapidArc rotates around you. Each treatment is typically completed in less than two minutes. Treatment speed is important because it reduces the amount of time that you must remain still and avoid movement.

Possible side effects

Side effects of radiotherapy using RapidArc are typically minimal. However, when side effects do occur, they are typically related to the specific area that are being treated. Side effects include:

  • Fatigue
  • Mild skin reactions
  • Hair loss
  • Upset stomach

Most side effects usually go away after treatment ends; however, you may feel very tired for four to six weeks after your last treatment. Talk to your doctor about ways to treat the side effects.

Support groups

Cancer is challenging, but you don’t have to go it alone. At Northwell Health Cancer Institute, a wide range of support groups are available to help you cope with diagnosis, treatment and post-treatment issues.

Learn more about support groups.

 

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