Customer stories: Acreo develops Component in Cancer Treatment System

Radiotherapy systems in the pre-treatment phase lack directional-independent detectors for the treatment of brain tumors. Acreo and Scandidos have developed a detector that can be used in future cancer treatment equipment.

Modern cancer treatments use advanced technology to plan and execute customized radiotherapy. In the pre-treatment phase, the treatment is run on a phantom (substitute patient) to measure and verify that the radiation dose can be delivered according to the treatment plan. Swedish company Scandidos is a world leader in this area. But for one vital application area – the brain – the equipment needed is missing due to the lack of isotropic detectors. In a three year research and development project, Acreo has developed a detector that is isotropic and can bridge the gap.

Applying radiation treatment to cancer involves the concept of dynamic dose delivery. The aim is to have an evenly distributed to change constantly during the treatment. In addition, the source of the beam is rotating around the patient and radiates the tumor from different angles radiation in the cancer tumor and minimal dose to sensitive surrounding organs, which requires the beam.

Equipment for measuring radiation dose

The method that’s used to verify the treatment is to measure the radiation dose in a large number of spots during the pre-treatment phase. This is done without a patient. Instead, a body phantom, representing the patient, is radiated. The phantom carries a large number of discrete detectors which measure the dose.

“The detectors are located in two intersecting planes and the measurements are used to construct a three-dimensional matrix of the radiation dose,” explains Görgen Nilsson at Scandidos.

At present, this kind of equipment is possible to use for the part of the body that’s below the neck. For the head and the brain, the detectors are not isotropic enough, which limits the treatment. The objective of the project was to develop a detector that has the same sensitivity independent of the direction of the beam; an isotropic detector.

“Ordinary semiconductor detectors are flat. A detector perfectly compensating for the isotropic characteristics of radiation would have the shape of a sphere. With the production methods used today, that’s difficult. But a cubic shape is almost perfect, and that’s what we have done in this project,” says Peter Norlin at Acreo.

The project started in 2009 and closes in December 2012, at the same time the Center of Excellence Imagic comes to an end.

“We have demonstrated that it works. But the components in the solution are much smaller than regular components, and production processes have to be optimized,” says Peter Norlin

“The project has shown that we, most likely, can solve the problem we wanted to solve and that we can expand our application area. But there is still work to be done, and we now look for financial support to continue the cooperation with Acreo,” says Görgen Nilsson at Scandidos.

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