Cancer Institute A national cancer institute
designated cancer center

Linear Accelerator

The first medical linear accelerator in the Western Hemisphere was developed at Stanford, and the first patient was treated in 1956.

With continued technological advances, linear accelerators maintain their status as one of the most advanced radiation technologies available today. The machines produce and deliver radiation with precision that was previously unavailable -- accurate to the millimeter.

Used in the Most Advanced Radiation Treatments

Linear accelerators at the Stanford are able to interface with computers to create advanced, targeted radiation therapy treatments such as intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT).

These cutting-edge treatments are changing the landscape of cancer treatment, making radiation therapy an option for many more patients than ever before. What about this technology makes radiation therapy possible now?

What Happens During Treatment

At Stanford, technicians use digitized imaging studies to precisely map out the tumor and provide very targeted radiation therapy. Patients are then assigned a digital file that holds their individual tumor target and radiation therapy information.

Because the linear accelerators are so accurate, it is important that a patient remain very still during treatment, which usually lasts about 10 minutes.


At Stanford we go to great lengths to ensure that patients are comfortable during treatment. Patients are given a full-size, personalized mold to help stabilize the body during treatment, and a special face mask to stabilize the face comfortably. In addition, technicians play music in the room to help patients relax.

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