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Radiation Therapy


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Radiation therapy destroys cancer cells or keeps them from growing. High energy X-rays, gamma rays, or proton beams are focused on a tumor. Radiation therapy is done before surgery or afterward to kill any cancer cells left after surgery. Radiation therapy may also be used as the main treatment if surgery is not an option. It can also help relieve symptoms caused by a tumor. There are two main types of standard radiation therapy:

Radiation zeros in on a tumor or cancerous cells. We have experience and resources to deliver therapy safely and protect healthy tissue from radiation therapy:

  • Internal radiation therapy: This approach uses a radioactive substance directly targets a tumor and is applied through a needle, wire or catheter. Or it might be delivered using tiny brachytherapy seeds that your surgeon would implant near the tumor.
  • External beam radiation therapy: With external beam radiation therapy, you will rest comfortably, lying flat. The radiation machine will slowly rotate around your body. It will deliver a carefully pointed radiation beam at the tumor or cancerous growth. The technology we use at Sylvester Cancer Center achieves pinpoint accuracy. Minimal or no radiation exposure occurs in your healthy body tissue. Types of external beam radiation therapy include:
    • 3D conformal radiation therapy (3D CRT): A computer creates a 3D picture of the brain or spinal cord tumor. The highest possible dose of radiation is applied.
    • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT): This is also a type of 3D radiation therapy. It uses thin beams of radiation of different intensities (strengths). Beams hit the tumor from many angles.
    • Stereotactic radiosurgery: This therapy aims a single (larger) dose of radiation directly at a brain tumor. Stereotactic radiosurgery or radiosurgery are other names for this, but it is not technically a surgical procedure.

Why Choose Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center?

One of only 71 NCI-designated cancer centers in the United States. Sylvester is one of only two cancer centers in Florida that have been recognized by the National Cancer Institute. The team earned this distinction through its outstanding work conducting research in its laboratories, treating patients in its clinics and hospitals, and reaching out to medically underserved communities with innovative prevention strategies.

Comprehensive care from a highly specialized cancer care team. You benefit from all the experience and resources available at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Advanced, cancer expertise and treatment in South Florida. Our radiation oncology specialists are also researchers discovering new ways to improve cancer treatment. That means you can get some of today’s most promising advancements through clinical trials. You benefit from the latest developments that are fast-tracked from the lab to the bedside.

Leading-edge radiation therapy technology. Our advanced equipment allows your doctor to target cancer cells with greater precision to spare healthy tissue and minimize side effects, including MRI-guided radiation therapy, IMRT, TrueBeam®, and Gamma Knife radiosurgery. You receive treatments you can’t find anywhere else nearby.

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Who is a Candidate?

Your doctor considers the type of cancer you have and many other factors to decide if radiation therapy is right for you. Your doctor will explain all your treatment options so you can make an informed decision.

Radiation therapy is often part of the treatment for:

Radiation therapy can also treat other conditions, such as thyroid-related eye disease, noncancerous (benign) tumors, and other growths.

Types of Radiation Therapy

  • External-beam radiation

    External-beam radiation therapy uses various machines to deliver beams of radiation from outside your body to kill cancer cells. Our advanced equipment allows us to focus radiation more precisely on your tumor, which limits damage to surrounding tissue. IMRT, SBRT, MRI-guided radiation therapy, and Gamma Knife radiosurgery are all external-beam radiation techniques. Your doctor will discuss which radiation therapy approach is right for you.

  • Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)

    IMRT uses multiple beams of radiation that are customized to the shape of your tumor. We use advanced technology — such as RapidArc® and Calypso® (for prostate cancer) — that allows us to control the amount of radiation in each beam targeted at the tumor. These advanced radiation systems monitor the location of your tumor in real time and adjust for any movements, such as breathing, so it minimizes damage to normal tissue. We’re able to deliver higher doses of radiation and shorten the treatment time.

  • MRI-guided radiation therapy

    The ViewRay MRIdian® radiation therapy system combines MRI-imaging with radiation therapy to allow doctors to see tumors during therapy and focus radiation with greater accuracy. It can reduce damage to healthy tissue, which can minimize treatment side effects. The system’s advanced software keeps radiation focused on the tumor, if you move during treatment, or if your tumor changes position from day to day.

  • Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT)

    The TrueBeam® radiotherapy system delivers a high dose of radiation with pinpoint accuracy and at a faster rate than other radiation therapy approaches — it can deliver therapy in half the time. The system’s enhanced accuracy can also mean you need fewer treatments than with other radiation therapy approaches. As with IMRT and MRI-guided therapies, TrueBeam® also adjusts for any movements during treatment to ensure beams are always focused on your tumor.

  • Gamma Knife radiosurgery

    A type of stereotactic radiosurgery, Gamma Knife treats tumors and other conditions in your brain with a painless approach that uses focused radiation beams. During the procedure, multiple radiation beams from different angles go to a single target area in your brain. Individual beams aren’t strong enough to cause damage to your brain tissue as they travel to the target area — only the beams’ combined energy at a single focal point is enough to destroy diseased tissue. In most instances, Gamma Knife requires only a single treatment.

  • Brachytherapy

    Brachytherapy is a type of internal radiation therapy that delivers radioactive substances directly to cancerous tissue, which minimizes damage to normal tissue. This type of radiation therapy treats cancers that affect a very small area and respond well to a high dose of radiation, such as breast or prostate cancers.

    Your doctor uses a minimally invasive interventional radiology approach using catheters to place tiny pellets or capsules of radioactive medicine inside your body. There are different brachytherapy techniques:

    • Low-dose rate (LDR): Pellets are placed inside or next to the tumor for a few days before they’re removed. We use LDR brachytherapy to treat sarcoma and prostate, gynecologic, eye, liver, head and neck, and bile duct cancers.
    • High-dose rate (HDR): Pellets are placed inside the tumor for a few minutes and then removed. Our sophisticated equipment lets us customize the dose to your specific needs. We use HDR brachytherapy for breast, prostate, gynecologic, eye, and liver cancers.
    • Permanent implants (seed implantation): Pellets are placed inside or near the tumor and left permanently. The radioactivity level of the pellets weakens slowly over time and then fades to nothing after several months. We use seed implantation to treat prostate cancer.
    • Liver embolization (radioembolization): Called selective internal radiation therapy (SIRT), this approach places tiny radioactive pellets in a liver tumor. SIRT is only used for liver cancer — this therapy doesn’t work on tumors outside the liver.

  • Retreatment with radiation

    Our radiation oncology experts developed techniques to treat areas previously treated with radiation therapy with reduced side effects. The techniques are mostly used for recurrences and new primary cancers affecting the head and neck, but we also use these approaches to retreat lung tumors and some pelvic tumors.

    We’ve also developed a technique, called accelerated hyperfractionation, to use radiation therapy more than once daily to reduce total treatment time and improve treatment response. Used with or without chemotherapy, the approach enhances the cancer-fighting effects of radiation, and it’s effective for recurrent cancers that were initially treated with radiation therapy.

Accepted Insurances

Note: Health plans that are currently contracted with UHealth are listed below. However, please check with your insurance provider to verify that UHealth is part of your provider network.