Cancer treatment often requires a multidisciplinary approach that includes radiation therapy, surgery and chemotherapy. Over 50% of cancer patients will receive radiation therapy and for some patients, radiation will be the only treatment needed. Radiation therapy is used to attack cancer cells, shrink tumors and provide pain relief.
When radiation therapy treatment is indicated, your oncologist will refer you to see a radiation oncologist. In consultation with you and your other physicians, the radiation oncologist will explain the different types of treatments available to you based on the type, stage and location of the cancer.
Many forms of radiation treatments are available in modern cancer care. External beam radiation therapy treatments are given using specialized machines called linear accelerators to destroy cancer cells using high energy x rays. Radiation therapy treatments are painless. Most treatments take 15-30 minutes and are given 5 days a week.
Two of the most common types of external beam radiation treatment are 3D & IMRT (Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy). Both treatments use CT based planning to target treatment volumes and protect healthy tissues. IGRT or Image Guided Radiation is used together with IMRT treatment. IGRT combines x-ray imaging and fusion software for computer assisted guidance for very precise patient positioning.
Internal radiation therapy treatments, or brachytherapy, implants radioactive material directly in the body at the tumor site. For example, low dose rate brachytherapy (LDR) permanently implants radioactive materials contained within small seeds in the prostate to treat prostate cancer. In high dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy, radioactive materials are temporarily implanted to treat certain breast and gynecological cancers and are removed when each treatment is completed.
We have several radiation oncology locations throughout our cancer center, where patients can receive radiation therapy in the same location as other patient services, such as chemotherapy, nutrition counseling, etc. Our radiation staff includes a dedicated team of physicians, radiation therapists, physicists, dosimetrists and nurses working together to help patients throughout their treatment.