Radiation therapy is the use of high energy x-rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation therapy is used to treat many kinds of cancers in most parts of the body. Thousands of people, who have had radiation therapy alone, or in combination with other types of treatment such as chemotherapy or surgery, are free of cancer. They live long and fulfilling lives. The success of radiation depends on the patient’s clinical condition. Our radiation team of oncologists, physicist, dosimetrist, therapists and therapy nurses work together to develop the best approach for each patient.
Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment therapy that uses medication to treat disease. Anti-cancer drugs destroy cancer cells by stopping them from growing or multiplying. Our medical oncology team works together to develop plans specifically designed for the individual patient. The goals are to cure, control and relieve symptoms.
Surgery is often needed to remove tumors. Highly trained, experienced surgeons work with the oncologist and the oncology team to surgically remove the cancerous tissue without harming surrounding areas.
ADVANCED TREATMENT TECHNOLOGIES
Linear Accelerator (LINAC)
The Linear Accelerator (LINAC) is the machine most commonly used for external beam radiation treatments for patients fighting cancer. The LINAC delivers a uniform dose of high-energy x-rays to the region of the patient’s tumor. These x-rays can destroy the cancer cells, while sparing the surrounding normal tissue. The radiation beam comes out of the accelerator, which can rotate around the patient. The patient lies on a moveable treatment couch and lasers are used to make sure the patient is in the proper position for treatment. Radiation can be delivered to the tumor from any angle. The radiation oncologist will customize each patient’s treatment to prevent areas of the body from receiving any unwanted dose.
Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy (IMRT)
Controlling the radiation dose to the exact cancerous area in the body is vitally important. The latest technologies in radiation treatment allow radiation beams to focus on the cancerous tissue area without affecting healthy tissue surrounding the cancerous areas. Controlling the dose of radiation can be accomplished using the linear accelerator and varying the intensity of the beam at different angles from the target. IMRT uses both of these methods of beam control to deliver radiation more precisely than ever before. The 3-dimensional treatment planning system allows the cancer team to plan and treat with literally hundreds of beams, each specially shaped and coming from different angles to target the treatment area. IMRT is very useful in treating small, fairly stationary targets surrounded by a large volume of normal tissue. This powerful treatment method spares the surrounding normal tissue from excessive radiation exposure.
3-Dimensional Treatment Planning
The technologically advanced 3-Dimensional Treatment Planning System can be integrated with CT Simulation data to test various treatment plans and beam modifications. Using 3-dimensional images allows the cancer care team to simulate and define the target area and determine the total dose of radiation to be administered before treatment actually begins. Modification of the treatment plan based upon clinical effects can be done to maximize the doses to a tumor while exposing less of the patient’s normal tissue to radiation.
The CT Simulator is a high-resolution imaging machine that maps out the targeted area and effects of the treatment with extreme accuracy and control.
The cancer team receives much more useful information with the CT Simulator versus regular x-rays. This information allows the team to create conformal treatments, "forming" the radiation beam to match the outline of the tumor. Conformal treatments offer the potential for delivering higher doses of radiation to the tumor while decreasing the dose to surrounding healthy tissues. The CT Simulator also works with fusion imaging and allows the cancer team to merge imagery from different systems, including MRI, CT and PET scans.