Radio-oncology

Radio-oncology (Radiotherapy) is a type of cancer treatment – like surgery or a systemic treatment, such as chemotherapyhormone therapy and immunotherapy – that involves exposing a small area of the body to a high dose of radiation targeted directly to the tumour. 

Cancer cells are sensitive to radiotherapy, as a result, the radiation destroys the cells, which prevents them from dividing and therefore stops or slows the growth of the tumour.

Multidisciplinary cancer treatment

Surgical oncology
Medical oncology
Psycho-oncology
Gynaecological oncology

Cancers treated by radiotherapy

  • Gynaecological cancers (breast, uterine and cervical cancer)
  • Urological cancers (prostate, bladder, kidney and testicular cancer)
  • Gastrointestinal cancers (stomach, oesophageal, anal canal and rectal cancer)
  • Head and neck cancers
  • Lung cancers
  • Central nervous system cancers
  • Skin cancers
  • Other cancers (lymphomas, soft tissue tumours, metastases, brain, lung, bone, liver, lymph node, etc.)

Radiotherapy involves multidisciplinary care: it requires the expertise of a wide range of specialists, including radiologists, nuclear medicine specialists, pathologists, radiotherapists, oncologists and surgeons, who discuss and review each patient case during weekly team meetings, known as Tumour Boards, in order to determine the best possible treatment option together. Supportive care is provided alongside treatment and focuses on coordinating support to manage challenges related to the disease.

Cancer centres

For over a decade, Swiss Oncology Network has set its sights on one overriding goal: to offer everyone living with cancer privileged access to treatments and the best and safest treatment strategies for their specific illness.

Our cancer centres

Different radiotherapy techniques

Intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT)

Intensity modulated radiotherapy is a form of high-precision external radiotherapy. Instead of a uniform dose of radiation, the beams deliver three-dimensional conformal radiation for a higher and more targeted dose to the tumour while minimising radiation to the surrounding healthy tissue. There are fewer side effects and it reduces treatment toxicity. It is particularly indicated for treating cancers in the following parts of the body:

  • Breast, prostate, lung, gastrointestinal tract, head and neck and central nervous system

Stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT)

Stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) is a high-precision radiotherapy technique that delivers a dose of radiation to kill the tumour while protecting the surrounding healthy tissue. It is indicated for the non-invasive treatment of primary and metastatic cancer, particularly in the following parts of the body:

  • Lung, liver, brain, lymph nodes and bone

Radiosurgery

Radiosurgery is a high-dose, non-invasive radiotherapy technique that destroys tumours in a single session in the following parts of the body (so that patients do not have to undergo surgery):

  • Brain, bone, liver and lung

Superficial radiotherapy

Superficial radiotherapy is used to treat tumours on or close to the skin’s surface, for example skin cancer, and delivers low-energy radiation that penetrates only a few millimetres into tissue.

Intraoperative radiotherapy (IORT)

Intraoperative radiotherapy is used to treat certain types of breast cancer and involves a single session of radiation, which takes place during surgery and immediately after the tumour resection. This intraoperative technique may shorten the course of standard postoperative radiotherapy and, in some cases, there may be no need for radiotherapy after surgery at all.

Rectal cancer radiotherapy

Specialised rectal cancer radiotherapy is used to treat rectal tumours in some patients without the need for surgery.

Hypofractionated radiotherapy

Hypofractionated radiotherapy is a treatment technique that consists of intensifying the dose of radiation delivered during each radiotherapy session, therefore reducing the number of sessions and total treatment time. It is suitable for specific cancers in the following parts of the body:

  • Prostate and breast

Multidisciplinary cancer center

<p>A new multidisciplinary cancer center at Clinique Générale-Beaulieu, Prof. Matzinger</p>

<p>The Radiation Oncology Department at Clinique Générale-Beaulieu is affiliated to the Swiss Oncology Network and is an integral part of the main cancer center in Geneva.</p>

<p>Its aim is to ensure the development of the most advanced technologies in this field and to optimize patient safety in a caring and highly personalized medical environment that caters for the needs of patients and their families.</p>

A new multidisciplinary cancer center at Clinique Générale-Beaulieu, Prof. Matzinger

The Radiation Oncology Department at Clinique Générale-Beaulieu is affiliated to the Swiss Oncology Network and is an integral part of the main cancer center in Geneva.

Its aim is to ensure the development of the most advanced technologies in this field and to optimize patient safety in a caring and highly personalized medical environment that caters for the needs of patients and their families.

<p>What is the role of the physicist in radiotherapy?</p>

<p>The medical physicist, in close collaboration with the radio-oncologist, guarantees the safety of radiotherapy procedures and optimises the doses delivered to patients in medical imaging. At the crossroads of medicine and information technology, the medical physicist has a key role in the health of patients.</p>

<p>Shelley, a physicist, presents the role of her team in the radiotherapy department of the Clinique Générale Beaulieu</p>

What is the role of the physicist in radiotherapy?

The medical physicist, in close collaboration with the radio-oncologist, guarantees the safety of radiotherapy procedures and optimises the doses delivered to patients in medical imaging. At the crossroads of medicine and information technology, the medical physicist has a key role in the health of patients.

Shelley, a physicist, presents the role of her team in the radiotherapy department of the Clinique Générale Beaulieu

Medical robots

We want to be pioneers in the implementation of new medical technologies. These assistance robots allow for very precise, less invasive operations and often a faster recovery. 

Radiotherapy uses a particle accelerator. This device delivers targeted doses of rays or ionising radiation to the tumour volume. These doses damage the DNA of cancer cells, killing them or stopping their growth while protecting the surrounding healthy tissue.

Cyberknife

The CyberKnife® system is a stereotactic radiotherapy solution that can be used anywhere on the body (stereotactic body radiation therapy or SBRT), meaning that high doses of radiation can be delivered with a degree of precision in the sub-millimetre range, i.e. less than the thickness of a five-pence coin.

Unlike in conventional radiotherapy, the radiation head in the CyberKnife system (known as a linear accelerator) is mounted on a robotic arm, which ensures full mobility and allows the tumour to be irradiated from different directions. This flexibility makes it possible to deliver high doses of radiation to the tumour with extreme precision, regardless of where it is located in the body.

The CyberKnife system also uses real-time imaging in order to precisely target and continually adjust the area to be irradiated. The robotic arm corrects for even the slightest movement of the patient or tumour, for example as a result of breathing in the case of lung tumours.

This allows moving tumours to be targeted with the utmost precision, whilst the patient reclines comfortably on the treatment table and breathes normally.

Radixact

The Radixact® system represents the latest generation of the TomoTherapy® platform, which is designed to deliver image-guided, intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IG-IMRT) with next-level precision. It is an all-in-one system that allows doctors to carry out imaging exams and deliver treatment using the same equipment and do so via a faster, more precise and more practical procedure.
This is possible thanks to the fact that the Radixact system is equipped with an on-board kilovoltage computed tomography (kVCT) imaging system and a linear accelerator. Whereas the devices used in conventional radiotherapy deliver a wide beam of radiation, the Radixact® system divides it into multiple narrow beams delivered helically in an ultra-precise manner over 360 degrees, with each beam having the ability to deliver a specific dose of radiation.

At each stage in the treatment, doctors are able to continually adjust the delivery of radiation to the anatomy of the patient in question, so that the right dose of radiation is delivered to the right place at the right time. This makes it easier to target the different regions of a tumour whilst sparing surrounding healthy tissue and organs and thus reducing the risk of side-effects. Automated, smart processes and tools that aid in decision-making during treatment also allow doctors to adjust your treatment based on changes in the size, shape and location of your tumour.

PAPILLON® contact accelerator

In order to ensure that all malignant tumour tissue can be removed and thus a satisfactory recovery can take place, medical technology is constantly researching further. The Papillon® contact accelerator is one such invention that allows doctors to work with precision.

Varian Clinac® linear particle accelerator

To fight cancer effectively, a choice of intelligent oncology solutions is more important today than ever before. That's why the Swiss Medical Network relies on partners and systems that connect all elements of healthcare. Varian's Clinac® linear accelerator generates high-energy electron and photon radiation that allows the beam source to be localised externally «through the skin» rather than internally to attack the tissue being removed.

Treatment in the radio-oncology

We aim to provide the highest quality of care in terms of our in-depth medical expertise, our state-of-the-art technical facilities and the human support that each of our members provides on a daily basis. 

First consultation

Your treatment in our radio-oncology department follows a request made by your oncologist or specialist. In order to present you with the details of our treatment proposal, you will receive an appointment for a «first consultation». During this consultation, a radio-oncologist from our network will present the indications, benefits and possible side effects of the treatment. He or she will also discuss the various treatment strategies with you and may recommend additional examinations. 

CT scan

After discussion and with your written consent, the doctor will usually organise a planning scan. This scan provides precise anatomical images of the treated area. These images allow for the most accurate treatment, they depend on your exact position and anatomy, thus cannot be replaced by radiology examinations that you may have had before. Your position during the scan will be precisely recorded (indexable media, ink skin marks) in order to be faithfully reproduced during each radiotherapy session. 

Planning

Every radiotherapy treatment is a highly personalised and requires a specific planning and quality control step. SRON's advanced radiotherapy equipment is programmed according to your radio-oncologist's orders. This complex process combines the specialist skills of our dosimetry team with the most advanced optimisation systems currently available in clinical use. As each treatment is unique, the highest quality is permanently ensured by continuous quality controls both before, during and after each session, using specific instruments and staff. Each clinical and technical strategy is systematically reviewed in detail in front of the entire department before treatment begins. 

Treatment

Your radiotherapy treatment will take place on a state-of-the-art radiotherapy machine. In order to be able to guarantee the most advanced treatments, the SRON maintains close and privileged collaborations with several world leaders in the field of radio-oncology. Our technical facilities are constantly being updated and we aim to offer the most advanced techniques, often for the first time in our region or even beyond. Our network has various treatment machines specifically adapted to each clinical situation, your doctor will discuss in detail with you which treatment technique is best suited to your treatment strategy.

FAQs

How soon can I start my treatment?

A medical consultation will first take place, followed by a planning scan. Treatment usually starts 1 week after the scan. 

Am I radioactive?  

No, no radiation remains in the body after the treatment session, so you are not a danger to those around you. 

How long does a radiotherapy session last?  

The treatment lasts on average 15 minutes, but this depends on several parameters specific to your treatment (number of locations...) so don't be worried if the session lasts a little longer. 

How long does the radiotherapy treatment last? 

The total duration of the treatment depends on the number of sessions (1 to 39) and their frequency. 

How often do the sessions take place?  

Most often one session per day, five times a week. Sometimes the frequency can vary upwards (e.g. 2 sessions/day) or downwards (e.g. 1 session every 2 days, or even further apart) depending on the medical prescription. 

Do I have to fast?  

Some localized treatments near the stomach sometimes require an empty stomach. 

Is it painful?  

Radiotherapy treatment, when delivered, is completely painless.  However, it is possible to feel the effect of the radiation between sessions. 

Is it the same dose at each session ?

Yes, the same treatment will be delivered at each session. However, the duration of the session can sometimes vary by a few minutes  

Can I continue my activities (sport, swimming pool...) ?

It is possible to feel tired during your treatment, so it is recommended to adapt your physical activity to your possibilities. In addition, markers drawn on your skin should be kept during your entire treatment. For example, it is best to avoid swimming during your treatment. 

Find out more

Cancer centres

Oncology

Nuclear medicine

Radiology

CyberKnife® System

Pathology

Hematology

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Our specialists have many years of experience. We guarantee a quick, professionally competent clarification and consultation as well as treatment according to the most modern possibilities.