Delivering extremely accurate treatments is critically important in radiation oncology. We use a variety of technologies and devices to ensure precise targeting of the tissues we want to treat, while simultaneously keeping radiation dose to adjacent healthy tissues as low as possible.
Treatment of cancers in the head and neck require the most precisely targeted of all sites in the body due to their close proximity to very sensitive structures, such as the eyes, brain and spinal cord, which is why we use customized immobilization devices such as this plastic mask. The thermoplastic material is first placed in a heated water bath to make it malleable, and then removed from the water and stretched over the the patient’s head and neck. As the warm plastic cools, it solidifies in the same shape of the patient’s surface contour. We then do a quick CT scan (“simulation”) of the head and neck while the mask is on and secured to a base platform. After the scan, the mask is removed and the patient goes home. When they return for their treatment appointments, we use their mask to set them up in the exact position we want them in and maintain that position for the short, 3-5 minute sessions. While these masks can look intimidating, they are actually very well tolerated by the vast majority of patients (even in those who have claustrophobia).