What is radiotherapy?
Radiotherapy is used in the local treatment of malignant tumors, based on the principle of the biological effects of the ionizing radiation. Beams of photons or of high-energy electrons are concentrated on the tumor aiming to destroy the cells responsible for its proliferation. For this purpose, the rays emitted by a linear accelerator are concentrated on the tumor lesion. Sophisticated calculation systems guide the rays in a very precise manner, in order to spare as much as possible the healthy tissue adjacent to the cancerous lesion. Once dosimetrists and physicists have developed radiation plan proposals, the radiation oncologist validates the most appropriate option to optimally treat the patient. Each stage of the treatment is subject to a rigorous quality control.
Embedded imaging techniques – On Board Imaging (OBI) and Cone Beam Computerized Tomography (CBCT) – enable operators to ensure that treatments are delivered in a very reproducible and precise manner, from one session to the next. Beyond the application of this external radiation, patients entrusted to the radiation oncology service can benefit from access to other forms of radiotherapy, such as, for example, Intra-Operative Radiotherapy (IORT). For early stage breast cancer and favorable prognosis or endo-rectal therapy of contact, for some rectal cancers. The Oncology Swiss Medical Network benefits also the use of a linear accelerator equipped with the latest technologies. This linear accelerator is equipped, among other things, with a high-performance technology dedicated to intracranial stereotactic radiotherapy.
Adapted to each person, the indication of radiotherapy depends on the characteristics of the tumor, on the treatments already performed and on the conditions of the patient. The indications for any irradiation are discussed in multidisciplinary consultation meetings or with the attending physician.
How long does radiation therapy last?
Regarding the actual treatment, irradiations are usually given on a daily basis except for the week-ends. More rarely, the irradiations can be given twice per day for ENT cancers or a lung cancer in particular or once-twice per week (hypofractionated irradiation for certain metastases). The treatment duration varies significantly from one patient to another depending on general condition, type and stage of tumor, and treatments that are combined with radiotherapy such as surgery and chemotherapy. The duration can be extended from one day in the cases of intra-operative radiotherapy up to 6-8 weeks depending on above mentioned factors.
Health insurance coverage
The prices of offered treatments for ambulatory oncology care in all Swiss Medical Network clinics are based on TARMED, common fee structure throughout Switzerland as part of compulsory health insurance. The fees are therefore identical to those used in public structures whether patients have basic, private or semi-private insurance.