Radiation Therapy

More than half of all cancers are treated with radiation.  Radiation therapy attacks reproducing cancer cells by using a special kind of energy carried by high-energy waves or a stream of particles to alter the cell structure of the cancer.

Regardless of the type of radiation therapy prescribed, our highly trained team coordinates with the patient’s physician to plan and deliver the best possible outcomes.  The team also works closely with patients and their families so they understand all aspects of radiation therapy.  Your cancer team includes a board-certified radiation oncologist, a medical physicist, oncology-certified nurses, an oncology-certified social worker and a dietitian.

The Radiation Oncology Clinic at the Schwab Family Cancer Center features a variety of state-of-the-art technologies not offered by any other health care facilities in the area to aid in the planning or delivery of radiation therapy treatment.

The following are highlights of some of the newer and cutting-edge radiation therapy treatments available at the Schwab Family Cancer Center.

  • IMRT (Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy)

With our new Varian True Beam Linear Accelerator, we offer radiation therapy using one of the safest and most powerful systems available.  The linear accelerator blocks the radiation field from reaching the normal tissue during treatment.  It is a particularly useful tool to deliver radiation therapy to irregularly shaped tumors.

IMRT is delivered via this linear accelerator.  This advanced, highly precise technique targets tumors while sparing the surrounding healthy tissue from unnecessary exposure.  It is especially beneficial for treating tumors in close proximity to vital organs that were previously considered untreatable.

IMRT uses computer-generated images to direct a radiation dose with pinpoint accuracy to the shape and depth of the tumor and reduce the adverse effects of the dose to the adjacent healthy tissue.  As a result, most IMRT patients typically experience fewer treatment-related side effects of high-dose radiation and are more likely to maintain their normal lifestyles during treatment.

Patients undergoing IMRT treatment also will have PET/CT scans performed on-site to help
chart the exact location of the tumor.  This information is then used by virtual reality simulation software to plot a radiation treatment to target the exact shape of the tumor.

IMRT treatment regimens typically are delivered over a four- to eight-week period.  The total dose of radiation and number of treatments depend on the size, location, and type of cancer as well as the patient’s general health and other current medical therapy treatments.

  • IGRT (Image-Guided Radiation Therapy)

Depending on the type of cancer and tumor location, it is not unusual for a tumor to shift between treatments as a result of breathing, digestion or other normal organ actions.  Our oncologists use IGRT to take a series of on-site, real-time digital images immediately prior to radiation therapy.  This allows the oncologist to confirm the exact location of the tumor to target and treat the disease more accurately.

IGRT is used in conjunction with other advanced treatments at the Schwab Family Cancer Center.

  • Brachytherapy

Brachytherapy is also referred to as internal radiation.  This treatment involves the temporary implantation of radioactive seeds inside the cancerous tissue in a manner that will attack the cancer most efficiently.

We are the only hospital in the area that offers brachytherapy for the treatment of gynecologic cancers.