Radiation Therapy Physics

Radiation Therapy Physics

The Radiotherapy Physics Service is committed to providing leadership in the application of physics and engineering principles to cancer care, and to maintaining scientific and technical support for the clinical, teaching, and research activities of CancerCare Manitoba's process teams.

We carry out a wide variety of tasks to ensure that patients receive well-planned radiation treatments on equipment that is operating safely, accurately and reliably.

These include providing expertise in planning individualized radiation treatments, and characterizing and monitoring the performance of equipment which delivers radiation to patients.

We also play major roles in the selection and commissioning of new equipment, research, and teaching.
Please click here to view our Medical Physics Residency Program brochure

To find out about challenging and rewarding career opportunities in Radiotherapy Physics, please click here.

Planning Individualized Radiation Treatment

Radiation is delivered to patients either by directing a radiation beam at the cancerous tumour from an external radiation source ("external beam therapy"), or, by placing a radioactive source temporarily or permanently inside the patient or on the patient's skin ("brachytherapy").

In both types of treatment, it is important to ensure that sufficient radiation reaches the tumour without delivering too much radiation to nearby healthy tissues. To achieve this, every radiation treatment must be carefully planned, individually for each patient, using detailed information about the location, size, and shape of the patient's tumour and neighbouring tissues.

The planning requires accurate calculations of the dose at each point in the patient. Much of this work is done by radiation therapists using a treatment planning computer system.

Radiotherapy physicists must understand the theory behind the calculations, so that they can advise radiation therapists and radiation oncologists on how to make the best use of the treatment equipment and the treatment planning computer.

The radiotherapy physicists are also responsible for checking each plan for accuracy and to ensure that it provides the best possible treatment for the patient.

Characterizing and Monitoring the Performance of Equipment

Radiation is delivered to patients by complex equipment, which must deliver just the right amount of dose to just the right place in order to carry out the treatment plan chosen for the patient.

When new equipment is installed, radiotherapy physicists must make detailed measurements of the radiation emitted by the equipment under different conditions. The results of these measurements are supplied to the treatment planning computers used in the individualized planning of radiation treatments.

Radiotherapy physicists are also responsible for setting up and carrying out a regime of regular tests to ensure that the equipment is performing correctly and consistently. They are supported in this work by physics associates who perform many of the daily, monthly, and annual measurements which are needed.

The results of these measurements are reviewed by radiotherapy physicists who may call on other professionals, such as Nuclear Electronics or Medical Devices technologists, to make repairs or adjustments, if necessary.

Even the instruments used in testing must themselves, be constantly checked for correct performance.

Selection and Commissioning of New Equipment

Radiation therapy equipment must be replaced periodically because its performance declines as it ages and, because old equipment may be unable to deliver new and better types of treatment needed by some patients.

Radiotherapy physicists have a large part of the responsibility for identifying the need for new equipment and for selecting the best equipment to meet the needs of our patients. When the equipment is installed, it is the radiotherapy physicists' job to test it thoroughly to ensure it meets its specifications and to collect the data needed for accurate treatment planning calculations.

Recent new equipment for which CCMB radiotherapy physicists have been responsible, includes a new linear accelerator and a new simulator, at the McDermot Avenue site and the Gamma Knife® in the Health Sciences Centre, Department of Neurosurgery.

Major equipment we expect to work on in 2005 includes two new linear accelerators.

Contact Us

Radiation Therapy Physics
Room ON2118
675 McDermot Ave
Winnipeg, MB R3E 0V9
Phone: 204-787-4145
Fax: 204-775-1684

Department Head:
Boyd McCurdy, Ph.D FCCPM

Section Head:
Anita Berndt, Ph.D. MCCPM

Medical Physicists:
Ryan Rivest, Ph.D.

Jorge Alpuche, Ph.D., MCCPM

Lawrence Ryner, Ph.D.

James Beck, M.Sc. MCCPM

Charles Schroeder, M.Sc. MCCPM

David Sasaki, M.Sc. MCCPM

Niranjan Venugopal, Ph.D.

Kelly McPhee, Ph.D.

Eric VanUytven, Ph.D. MCCPM

Navid Khaledi, Ph.D. MCCPM

Richard Lee, Ph.D. FCCPM

Physics Associates:
Tara Bailey
Tammy Bridgelall
Marlon Evan