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Radiation Oncology

Welcome to the National Centre for Radiosurgery at Beacon Hospital

At Beacon Hospital we are proud to announce the arrival of Ireland’s most advanced Radiotherapy machine, The Varian Edge. We are a leading provider of Radiotherapy and have been providing this treatment since 2007. We were the first centre in Ireland to offer extra-cranial radiosurgery, i.e. radiosurgery to sites other than the brain.

Radiotherapy is a highly successful treatment which uses targeted doses of radiation to shrink and destroy tumours. This new machine will upgrade and further enhance this treatment allowing for higher doses of radiation targeted with even more accuracy thus having less of an impact on surrounding tissues and allowing better results and fewer treatment for patients.

This Varian Edge is the first and only machine of its kind in Ireland and with only 3 in the UK and 130 worldwide it means that Ireland now has access to the very latest technology to treat cancer. By 2020, 1 in 2 people in Ireland will develop cancer during their lifetime.

The technology can treat tumours found in brain, spine and lung cancer patients, as well as tumours in other areas of the body that are difficult to reach surgically.

With some treatment sessions taking as little as 15 minutes and the absence of an incision, it means the patient does not require a hospital stay and can quickly get back to their lives.

It also allows for breathing to be monitored during treatment, giving the patient a more comfortable experience. This is made possible with advanced motion-management techniques that aids doctors in protecting surrounding healthy tissue.

This latest in technology really does give us the edge on cancer.

First Visit

At your first visit in the department you will meet your consultant and one of the clinical team.

They will review your records and x-rays, examine you, and explain why radiation treatments are recommended. Expect to spend about two hours during your first visit.

Be sure to bring or have your referring doctor send us the following information: •

  • Medical records
  • Laboratory reports
  • X-ray films and reports Scan (CT, MRI, bone) films and reports
  • Pathology report and slides.

Having these reports sent to us before your appointment will help the doctor in planning your care. It is also important to bring your insurance information and/or appointment letter.

Radiotherapy is a well established treatment for cancer using precisely planned radiation beams. It uses high energy waves of particles or x-rays, which are delivered by a machine called a linear accelerator. During treatment, high doses of radiation are directed at cancer cells in the body, which either kills the cells or keeps them from growing and dividing.

Our specialised team of Radiation Oncology Consultants, Physicists, Dosimetrists and Radiation Therapists work together to determine the best course of treatment and care for each patient’s specific needs. Beacon Hospital Cancer Centre offers a wide range of treatment options, including Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT).
IMRT is a state-of-the-art treatment that delivers radiation to tumours with greater accuracy and precision. Images taken using Computed Tomography (CT) scans, Positron Emission Tomography/ CT (PET/CT) scans or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), enable your team to accurately visualise the location of the tumour and surrounding healthy tissue. Using IMRT, the radiation beam can then be shaped specifically to the contour of the active cancerous site, sparing adjacent healthy tissue from unnecessary radiation exposure. IMRT leads to fewer side effects, shorter healing times and the potential for higher cure rates. In addition to IMRT, the Beacon Cancer Centre has the capability to provide Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT).
Due to normal body movements such as breathing, tumours can move slightly in the body, both during a radiation treatment session and also between sessions. If these changes in position move the tumour out of the planned range of the radiation beam, the tumour may not receive the full amount of radiation that it should or normal tissues may receive more radiation than it ideally should. IGRT is an advanced treatment that allows the position of the tumour to be monitored precisely during irradiation using state of the art imaging devices attached to the treatment machine.
This allows the synchronized delivery of radiation with the patient’s respiratory cycle in real time, leading to increased treatment precision.

Once a letter of referral is received by the consultant Oncologist, the patient is contacted within 72 hrs, so that an appointment can be made.

DIAGNOSIS: The process of cancer diagnosis at Beacon Hospital Cancer Centre is managed by a multidisciplinary approach.  In order to determine diagnosis patients will undergo a range of tests which may include the following; • MRI Scan • CT Scan • PET-CT Scan • Biospy • X-ray • Blood tests

Your treatment will commence soon after your CT Simulation appointment. The radiation therapist will inform you at your CT appointment an approximate date or time frame when you will start. Your radiation therapy will continue Monday through Friday for the number of treatments your doctor has prescribed. Every effort will be made to start your treatment at the scheduled time. However, there are occasional delays due to emergency patients, technical problems, and other difficulties, and the schedule may need to be altered.

You will see your doctor at least once a week while you are undergoing treatment. If you are having any problems, let us know when you come in for your treatment or call the department and a member of the team will meet with you. Patients often ask if radiation therapy treatments can make them radioactive. We want to assure you that external radiation therapy treatments do not pose this risk and that you should continue your normal activities with your family and friends.

Simulation  The simulation is the first step in planning for your actual radiation treatment. At Beacon we use a CT Simulator. This is very similar to a CAT scan. During the simulation, the therapist takes x-ray pictures of the part of your body to be treated. These x-rays give the team a picture of the area to be treated and help to determine how the radiation will be directed to your body. Often special equipment will be used to help you lie still and in the position that will be used to deliver your treatment. The therapist often uses special markers to outline the treatment area on your skin. These marks are very important. They act as a map of the treatment area, and the therapist uses them each day as a guide during your treatment. At the end of the Simulation session tiny permanent dots called tattoos are used to replace the painted marks on your skin.

What are the side effects of radiotherapy?

The side effects vary from patient to patient depending on were in your body the treatment will be delivered to. Your consultant and the radiotherapy team will discuss this with you during your visits.

Am I radioactive?

No, you are not radioactive. The radiation is only present when the machine is turned and is delivering the treatment.

Do I have to change my diet/stop smoking/drinking?

You should continue your normal diet while on treatment, we do not suggest you try to gain or lose any weight while on treatment as your treatment plan is designed for your body and any changes to your shape will alter this.

How go I get to Radiotherapy within the hospital?

The radiotherapy department is located on level -1. Please use the hospital lifts to get to the department.

What about appointment questions, times, scheduling?

Your appointments will be made for a time most preferable to you. We do try our best to make the times convenient for you but may not always be possible.

How do I know if I am covered by my insurance?

If you have any queries about you insurance coverage we will be happy to direct you to a member of the business office team that can help with this or you can contact them directly on 01 2938639

What do I wear/bring with me?

You do not need to wear any specific clothing, just wear what’s most comfortable for you.

Who can I bring with me?

We ask that you have a family member or friend accompany you as part of our falls prevention programme and to help remember any information or instructions you may be given.

How long does it take?

Your first visit can take from 1.5 hours – 2 hours. The remainder of your visits will be dependent on the type of treatment you will be getting.

If I am unwell late at night or at the weekend what can I do?

You can call the hospital and ask to speak to the nursing supervisor or contact your GP. If you feel very unwell please go to your local Emergency department.

Will it hurt?

You will not feel or see anything during your treatment. You will hear a buzzing sound from the machine.

What if I miss a treatment?

We urge you to attend for all your appointments. If you feel unwell we would recommend you still attend the Radiotherapy Department so we can have a doctor assess you.

Can I drive?

You can drive once you feel comfortable to do so and once your consultant does not advice you to do so.

What do I do if I have questions/concerns?

You can call the radiotherapy department and ask to talk to the coordinator on 01 293 6691.

Professor John G. Armstrong

Consultant Radiation Oncologist MD FRCPI DABR FFRRCSI Professor John Armstrong is a Board Member and ex-chairman of the Irish Cancer Society. Professor Armstrong was trained at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where he performed his residency and was Chief resident, attending for five years. He directed the lung cancer radiation research programme at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and co-authored the chapter on non-small cell lung cancer chapter in 4th edition of DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg, Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology, Lippincott. He is currently the Director of Research at St. Luke’s Hospital, Dublin. Professor Armstrong is the Principal Investigator for several clinical trials in the Irish Clinical Oncology Research Group. Professor Armstrong has published numerous articles and has lectured extensively in the field of radiation oncology. He has been instrumental in the rollout of new procedures involving high-tech radiation therapy procedures such as Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy, and stereotactic radiosurgery.

Dr Alina Mihai

Consultant Radiation Oncologist MD MSc

UCD Clinical Assistant Professor

Director of Oncology Research

Prof. Alina Mihai is a full time Consultant Radiation Oncologist at Beacon Hospital, UCD Clinical Assistant Professor and our Director of Oncology Research. She founded the annual Irish SRS/SBRT Symposium which continues to expand and is recognized internationally. She is the Scientific Program Chair and Head of the Organising Committee. She is also part of the Scientific and Organising Committee of the Annual Best of ASCO-Best of ASTRO meeting, taking place in Romania since 2016.

Dr. Mihai completed her Medical Degree and Specialty in Romania followed by clinical and research Fellowships in France (University of Rouen – Prof B. Dubray) and Canada. Between 2002-2005, while at the University of Toronto, she was involved in the development of forward planning IMRT for breast cancer and involved in assessing the role of central pathology review in DCIS breast.

Between 2006-2007 Dr Mihai joined the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton (Alberta), initially as a Clinical Research fellow, and subsequently as a full time locum Consultant. During this period she was involved in developing the tomotherapy technique for breast cancer treatments, as well as in implementing the PET-CT and myocardial perfusion scans in the process of radiotherapy planning for lung and breast malignancies. Dr Mihai joined Beacon Hospital in July 2007.

Dr. Mihai had a pivotal role in the implementation and development of gated and image guided radiotherapy and stereotactic body radiotherapy at Beacon Hospital, and leads the extracranial SBRT task group at Beacon Hospital. Her expertise is in assessment of moving targets, SBRT for oligometastatic disease and IMRT for brain, prostate and lung cancers. Dr Mihai earned her Master degree in Radiation Science (University of Toronto) in 2006. Her present areas of research and publications include SBRT for oligometastatic disease and SBRT in the elderly as well as the role of metabolic imaging in treatment planning and response assessment. She published several peer reviewed articles on these subjects, was co-author in two chapters of a recently published boon on stereotactic radiosurgery and stereotactic ablative radiotherapy. She reported extensively on Beacon radiotherapy experience with SRS/SBRT at internationally recognized meetings in Europe and USA. She is member of several professional organizations including Cancer Trials Ireland, ESTRO, ASTRO, EANO.

Under her supervision, the Division of Oncology Research increased significantly its activity, currently running 18 national and international multicentric trials. Dr. Mihai is the national PI for three international multicentric trials, and site PI for other five national and international trials. ASTRO recently highlighted the ICORG 15-05/UPCI 10-028 clinical trial on the role of SABR for patients with oligo-recurrent solid cancers. As part of this trial, 31 Irish patients were recruited by Beacon Oncology Research Unit.

Dr Pierre Thirion

Consultant Radiation Oncologist MD, DES Radiotherapy, DESC Medical Oncology, FFRRCSI Dr Pierre Thirion, is a French trained radiation oncologist, presently holding a permanent specialist consultant position in St Luke’s Hospital, Dublin, and chairperson of the Radiation Oncology department. Dr Thirion completed his basic medical training at the University Paris V-René Descartes medical school. He completed his Fellowship in Radiation Oncology (University Paris-V), rotating through the main Parisian radiotherapy departments. In 1998, he completed an additional diploma in medical oncology (University Paris-XI). After working for two years as a Chef de Clinique des Universités – Assistant des Hôpitaux de Paris (Henri Mondor Hospital, Créteil, France), he moved to Ireland in 1999 and took a position of Clinical/Research Senior Registrar in St Luke’s Hospital, Dublin. Since 2002, he has been working as a Consultant Radiation Oncologist at the latter hospital. Dr Thirion has a special interest in the treatment of prostate and other genito-urinary cancer, lung tumour, breast cancer, gastro-intestinal malignancies and lymphoma. He has a recognised expertise in new radiotherapy technologies, including IMRT and brachytherapy, and had a major role in the implementation and development of extra-cranial stereotactic radiation therapy in Beacon Hospital. Dr Thirion completed a MD in radiobiology at the Curie Research Institute, Paris (University Paris XI-Paris Sud, 1996) and a post-graduate diploma in statistics (Trinity College Dublin, 2002). His present areas of research and publications include: • clinical trials methodology and meta-analyses • the development of new radiotherapy technologies • the implementation radiotherapy-oriented clinical trials. He is the principal investigator of several national and international clinical trials, and is an executive member of the All Ireland Cooperative Oncology Research Group (ICORG) and other international research group (EORTC).

A letter of referral is required in order that you receive an appointment with the Medical Oncologist.  Once this letter is received, the Oncology Administrator, will make contact with you by phone to arrange a clinic appointment for you attend.

Contact details:

Siobhan Creevy Oncology Administrator Oncology Day Unit, Level 2 Beacon Hospital, 
, Dublin 18 Office Hours:  0830 hrs – 1600 hrs. Monday to Friday Phone: 01-293-6028 Fax: 01-293-8620 Please note that if the phone line is busy, you may be asked to leave your contact details.  Please rest assured that you will be contacted promptly. Inpatient Floor: 01 293 7530/7503 Day Oncology Unit: 01 293 8676

What is 3-D Conformal Radiation Therapy?

Three dimensional (3-D) Conformal Radiation Therapy (CRT) is a technique where the beams of radiation used in treatment are shaped to match the tumour.
What is Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy (IMRT)?

IMRT, a state-of-the-art treatment, gives the ability to “sculpt” the edges of a tumour, minimizing the damage to adjacent healthy tissue, even more than the 3DCRT technique.


Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)

In addition to IMRT, Beacon Cancer Centre has the capability to provide Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT). Due to normal body movements such as breathing, tumours can move, both during a radiation treatment session and also between sessions.


Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS) and Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy (SBRT) Programme

Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS) is one of the most precise and effective forms of radiation therapy. Beacon Cancer Centre is currently the only centre in Ireland that offers extra cranial (outside head) Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SBRT) in Ireland.


Extracranial Radiosurgery Programme

Our SBRT programme has been operational since 2008. Beacon Hospital is the only cancer centre in Ireland able to deliver this treatment, using the Trilogy TX linear accelerator.


Brachytherapy/Internal Radiotherapy

Internal radiation therapy, also called brachytherapy or seed implantation, is a type of radiation therapy in which radioactive materials are placed, temporarily or permanently, inside the affected area. This form of therapy delivers a high dose of radiation directly to the cancerous area. The materials, called “seeds,” slowly release radiation over several months. Within one year, their radiation completely decays. The seeds can remain in place for the rest of a person’s life.


Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are studies which evaluate new cancer treatments and ways to detect cancer. Clinical trials find better ways to treat cancer and help cancer patients, and play a key role in the progress against cancer.


Hormone Therapy

Hormone therapy is used against certain cancers that depend on hormones for their growth. Hormone therapy keeps cancer cells from getting or using the hormones they need. This treatment may include the use of drugs that stop the production of certain hormones or that change the way they work.