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Case study 2: ARPANSA's new linear accelerator

In March 2019, ARPANSA installed a new, state‑of‑the‑art linear accelerator (linac).

Over 60 000 Australians underwent radiation therapy as part of their cancer treatment in 2018-19. Linacs deliver this therapy in highly targeted dosages.

The new linac will support ARPANSA’s medical radiation services to continue in ensuring any Australians undergoing medical procedures receive the correct amount of radiation. The importance of these services was recognised by the Commonwealth government’s decision to provide $5 million in funding to purchase and install the new linac within ARPANSA.

The linac sits within a research and education centre, the Roger Allison Radiotherapy Quality Centre, and will also be used for a variety of partnership projects to facilitate both national and international research in therapy and imaging.

ARPANSA provides calibration services, through the Primary Standards Dosimetry Laboratory (PSDL), to every Australian radiotherapy provider. The calibration provides a surety that the correct amount of radiation, or dose, is being delivered to every patients’ tumour site. ARPANSA performs these critical services by calibrating hospitals’ measurement equipment against the National Primary Standard for ionising radiation. ARPANSA’s linac ensures the highest possible precision for the calibration.

The new linac will also support ARPANSA's audit services provided through the Australian Clinical Dosimetry Service (ACDS). The new linac enables ACDS staff to develop and test new audit services, keeping pace with developments in techniques for delivering advanced radiation therapy in a clinical environment. With the new linac in place, tests and calibrations undertaken at ARPANSA will continue to closely mimic the actual processes that take place in clinical settings. This will ensure a high level of accuracy in ACDS audit services and PSDL calibration services.

ARPANSA managed the entirety of the tender, evaluation, build and installation program for the new linac. Additional expertise was engaged as required ensuring that the entire build and installation program stayed within budget and schedule.

The Roger Allison Radiotherapy Quality Centre, named after Dr Roger Allison of the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital in recognition of his outstanding services to ARPANSA, was opened by the CEO of ARPANSA on the 6 March 2019. The opening took place in the presence of Dr Allison and representatives of government, the medical profession and industry. The Centre is now in use in advanced audit development and training for both ARPANSA and external staff.