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We understand that our patients have work and families to tend to during the day. So our team offers therapy treatment appointments outside of typical hospital hours that work with your schedule.
External-beam radiation therapy uses X-rays, gamma rays, and charged particles created by an advanced machine called a linear accelerator. These external forms of energy come from outside your body and penetrate where cancer cells live. The intense radiation destroys cancer cells or prevents them from growing and spreading. Radiation is so effective that more than half of all people with cancer receive radiation as part of their treatment.
Our advanced linear accelerator and imaging technology allows us to target your cancer cells precisely and shield surrounding tissues from exposure to radiation. We use many different types of external radiation therapy to treat cancer, with as few side effects as possible.
Who is a Candidate?
Not all cancers respond well to radiation therapy. Your doctor considers the type of cancer you have and many other factors to determine if radiation therapy is right for you.
Radiation therapy is often a part of treatment for:
- Brain and spine tumors
- Breast cancer
- Eye cancer
- Gastrointestinal cancer
- Head and neck cancer
- Gynecological cancer
- Lymphoma and myeloma
- Lung cancer
- Prostate cancer
Radiation therapy can also treat other conditions, such as thyroid-related eye disease, noncancerous (benign) tumors, and other growths.
What to Expect
You may receive external radiation therapy at different times throughout your treatment, depending on your personalized treatment plan. You will likely receive a series of treatments over time so that healthy cells have time to repair themselves in-between treatments.
You may receive external radiation therapy:
- Combined with chemotherapy: Chemotherapy can enhance the effects of radiation by making cancer cells more susceptible to radiation therapy. In turn, radiation therapy can improve chemotherapy outcomes by further shrinking the tumor.
- Before surgery: To shrink a tumor in preparation for surgical resection or removal.
- After surgery: To stop any remaining cancer cells from growing, or prevent the cancer from recurring (coming back) or metastasizing (spreading).
- For patients with untreatable cancer: To shrink the tumor and reduce pain, pressure, and other cancer-related symptoms.
You may receive different forms of radiation therapy.
Your doctor will discuss with you when and what type of external radiation therapy may be effective for your cancer. You may receive:
Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
IMRT uses multiple beams of radiation that are shaped to fit your tumor based on imaging results. We use advanced technology — such as RapidArc® — to control the amount of radiation in each beam targeted at the tumor. These innovative radiation systems monitor the location of your tumor in real-time and adjust for any movements, such as breathing, to minimize damage to healthy tissues. New techniques allow us 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 so we can see, target, and shape radiation beams with greater accuracy. We are pioneers in the field of MRI-guided radiation therapy and one of only a few cancer centers in the United States to offer this technology.
MRI-guided radiation therapy can shield healthy tissue from radiation to minimize treatment side effects. The system’s advanced software keeps radiation focused on the tumor even if the tumor location changes due to movement during treatment or natural changes in position.
Gamma Knife® radiosurgery
A type of stereotactic radiosurgery, Gamma Knife treats tumors and other conditions in your brain with focused radiation beams. During the painless 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.
While similar in approach to traditional radiation therapy, proton therapy does not use x-rays (high-energy photon light waves). Instead, the technique takes advantage of charged particles called protons to deliver a powerful, more targeted blow to cancer cells. Here's how it works.
The machine makes use of a magnetic field to separate hydrogen atoms into negatively charged electrons and positively charged protons. It rapidly spins the protons into an ultra-thin beam of cancer-fighting energy. Many patients of proton therapy experience fewer side effects from treatment. Most are able to maintain a busy, active schedule with less interruption from your cancer treatments.
Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT)
Our radiation therapy system delivers a high dose of radiation with pinpoint accuracy at a faster rate than other radiation therapy approaches. Using advanced technology, we 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, this equipment also adjusts for any movements during treatment to ensure beams are focused directly on your tumor.
Retreatment with radiation
Re-treatment is sometimes needed, as in the case of recurrent cancers that were initially treated with radiation therapy. This has been greatly simplified by the use of intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). The IMRT technique allows us to target an area with high doses of radiation while sparing adjacent tissue. Our experienced radiation oncology experts also have developed improved ways to retreat, such as accelerated hyperfractionation. This technique is based on applying radiation therapy more than once daily to reduce total treatment time and improve how your body responds to treatment. Due to its enhanced ability to spare healthy tissue, proton therapy may decreased the need for retreatment.
Why Choose Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center?
Care from a highly-specialized cancer team. Each of our radiation oncologists specializes in treating specific areas of cancer. In many cases, our physicians exclusively treat only certain types of cancer, giving them a distinct breadth and depth of knowledge in the field. This knowledge and expertise ensure you receive the correct treatment for your type of cancer.
Leading-edge radiation therapy technology. We are pioneers in MRI-guided therapy, which is the latest approach to radiation therapy. As one of only a handful of cancer treatment centers in the world to use this technology, we can precisely target cancer cells with greater accuracy. We utilize advanced treatment techniques, including intensity-modulated radiation therapy, stereotactic body radiation therapy, stereotactic radiosurgery, and more, to improve the efficacy of radiation treatment while preserving healthy organs and tissues.
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