Fact or Fiction: Cancer Clinics - CNSC Online

Fact or Fiction: Cancer Clinics

Fact or Fiction

Table of Contents

Fact or Fiction

Cancer Clinics 01

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Radiation therapy is used in 60% of cancer treatments.

Radiation therapy is one of the most commonly used methods for treating cancer and can be used alone or in combination with other therapies.

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Cancer Clinics 02

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Cancer clinics are like hospitals. They are regulated by Health Canada and not the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).

The CNSC and Health Canada, as well as the provinces or territories, regulate different aspects of Canadian cancer clinics. Clinics must have the appropriate CNSC licenses to use radioactive materials or to operate certain types of radiation-producing equipment. CNSC inspectors ensure that radioactive materials are handled safely and that licensed equipment functions properly, is installed in facilities that have appropriate safety measures, and is operated by well-trained staff.

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Cancer Clinics 03

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Sitting in a cancer clinic waiting room will expose you to high levels of radiation.

Radiation treatment rooms are shielded and carefully controlled, so it is completely safe for people in nearby waiting rooms.

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Cancer Clinics 04

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Before a patient receives any radiation, a personalized treatment plan must be created.

Using computerized tomography (CT) scanners, MRIs, PET scans, or ultrasound, doctors create a simulation of the patient’s body and the cancerous area to pinpoint the location and edges of the tumour. They then create a plan that best delivers the most radiation to the cancer and the least radiation to the surrounding healthy tissue.

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Cancer Clinics 05

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The CNSC is involved in coming up with cancer treatment plans for patients.

The CNSC ensures the facility and the machines are properly maintained and used according to the terms of their CNSC license, and that staff are properly trained and qualified to operate them. Specially trained and provincially licensed doctors at the clinic are responsible for making decisions related to patient treatment and doses.

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Cancer Clinics 06

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Computerized tomography (CT) scanners are not regulated by the CNSC.

A CT scanner is a type of X-ray equipment that plays an important role in planning and monitoring radiation therapy treatments. The use of such equipment in most hospitals is regulated by the province. Federally run institutions such as veteran’s hospitals are regulated by Health Canada.

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Cancer Clinics 07

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A medical linear accelerator, also called a linac, is used to treat cancer through an external beam of radiation.

A linac creates a shaped, high-energy radiation beam. The beam follows plotted paths from various angles that pass briefly through healthy tissue while accurately delivering a focused dose of radiation to the cancerous cells.

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Cancer Clinics 08

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Linac treatments with external beam radiation make patients radioactive.

Just like X-rays at the hospital or dentist's office, radiotherapy treatments with a linac do not contaminate patients with radioactivity or make them radioactive.

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Cancer Clinics 09

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The radiation beam produced by a linac can pass through ordinary walls.

Rooms licensed to contain linacs must be heavily shielded with up to a few metres of concrete to protect people occupying adjacent areas. A heavier layer of concrete shielding surrounds the linac machine and intercepts its possible beam paths. This is called the “primary” shielding. The entire treatment room is also shielded to absorb any scattered radiation. This is called the “secondary” shielding.

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Cancer Clinics 10

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It's okay to be in the linac treatment room when a patient is being treated.

Radiation therapy equipment is designed to deliver high and doses of radiation to the patient’s tumour to eradicate the disease. This level of radiation is harmful to humans and no person other than the patient is allowed to remain in the treatment room when the radiation is turned on. CNSC regulations require that rooms licensed to contain linacs have safety systems to prevent anyone else from being in the room. These include interlocked entrances which automatically shut down the beam if someone tries to enter while it is on, emergency stop switches for the operators, “Last Person Out” buttons which force the operator to verify that no-one other than the patient is in the room before they leave, warning lights to warn when the beam is on, and camera systems to provide constant monitoring of the interior of the room.

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Cancer Clinics 11

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A linac machine is always giving off radiation.

Like an X-Ray machine, a linac emits no radiation when it is turned off. It is safe for the therapist and the patient to remain in the room as long as necessary when the machine is not operating.

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Cancer Clinics 12

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“Stereotactic radiosurgery” is actually not surgery.

Stereotactic radiosurgery is a non-invasive surgery technique that uses multiple high-energy radiation beams, tightly focused at a single point, to kill the cancer cells of very small tumours in hard-to-access areas like the brain. These beams may be produced all at once by a device with several hundred radioactive sources, or in sequence with an ordinary linac or a specially designed, robotically controlled linac.

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Cancer Clinics 13

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Brachytherapy is radiation therapy delivered by a radioactive source placed inside the body.

Brachytherapy involves placing a radioactive source near or inside cancerous tissue to kill the cancerous cells without affecting healthy tissue.

Fact or Fiction: Cancer Clinics

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