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At UCI Radiation Oncology, we are committed to leading at the forefront of academic healthcare, ushering in new treatments from the laboratory to the bedside as soon as they become feasibly available. The Department is proud to feature the latest innovations in radiation oncology for the precise planning and delivery of therapeutic radiation for the treatment of cancer. A hallmark of the Department is the development and prioritization of high-impact, “ground-breaking” clinical trials and technologies for patients with both routine and difficult-to-treat cancers throughout the body.

The process of radiation therapy starts with localizing the tumor. This targeting process is accomplished through sophisticated imaging equipment that allows the radiation oncology team to accurately map the position of the tumor and surrounding tissues while carefully determining dosing depending on the density of the body tissue. Medical linear accelerators deliver the high energy X-rays or electrons needed to destroy cancer cells while safely avoiding normal tissue. For these purposes our treatment center features:

Phillips Brilliance Big Bore 3-D Simulator

A CT-driven virtual simulator that captures CT images and precise measurements of all areas inside the body. This technology accounts for tumor motion due to breathing (respiration), ensuring the tumor receives the proper radiation dose. Patients being treated at UCI are also fortunate to be able to experience the latest CT simulation technology-- a high-tech CT suite called the Ambient Experience that combines advanced treatment with an environment that is more positive for the patient. With Ambient Experience, patient comfort is at the forefront. A four-dimensional simulator provides precise information while accounting for the patient’s respiration cycle. Lighting, sights and sound—a Hollywood-like experience—based on a theme chosen by each patient-- are designed to calm nerves and improve delivery.

Varian Trilogy and TrueBeam Linear Accelerators

Machines that deliver radiation treatments including intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), image guided radiation therapy (IGRT), stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT). This technology monitors patient motion with sub-millimeter accuracy, allowing for the highest precision in targeting tumors. The use of volumetric arc technology allows for additional precision delivery and targeting to the next level by delivering radiation often in less than a few minutes. In the hands of our expert specialist, these systems create smooth, highly shaped radiation treatment that is unlimited in its sophistication. The result is optimization of cure rates with a decrease in side effects.

Respiratory Gating and Deep Inspiration Breath Hold (DIBH)

For some teams, the UCI team works to accurately track the tumor position during the treatment, which may move with breathing. Accurately tracking tumor position is a critically important factor when maximizing radiation dose to the tumor and limiting normal tissue exposure. DIBH is a specific radiation therapy technique for breast and lung treatment to spare doses to the heart and lungs. Using the DIBH technique, the radiation is delivered only at certain points during the patient’s breathing cycle of inspiration and expiration. The patient is asked to take a deep breath in and hold their breath for about 20 seconds. This, in turn, will limit the amount of the heart and lung that is exposed to the radiation beam, since taking a deep breath in will allow these organs to move out of the treatment field. DIBH can be also used to minimize internal organ motion for other body sites, such as the stomach, pancreas, and liver.

High-dose-rate Brachytherapy Suite

Brachytherapy is a radiation treatment method by placing radioisotopes within or on the tumor. At UCI, we have a long experience with brachytherapy, and we use the most advanced brachytherapy treatment system. The VariSource iX system is a completely automated high-dose-rate (HDR) after-loading system. Physicians are able to use catheters to place small radioisotope seeds (such as Iridium-192) directly within the tumor, or in body cavities or tissues, often under anesthesia or sedation. Depending on the size and shape of the tumor, multiple catheters can be used. Using the VariSource iX, the radioisotope source travels through the catheter(s) to the target within the tumor or body cavities. Once the dose is delivered, the sources are safely retracted back to the container, making this process extremely precise and safe. At UCI, this treatment modality is performed using an advanced image-guidance system and takes place in the new highly equipped brachytherapy HDR suite. Brachytherapy is used to treat prostate cancer, skin cancer, gynecological cancer, esophageal cancer, and tracheobronchial cancers.