Radiation oncology involves treating cancer with radiation. Radiation therapy uses carefully targeted and regulated doses of high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells. Radiation causes some cancer cells to die immediately after treatment, but most die because the radiation damages the chromosomes and DNA so that the cells can no longer divide and the tumor can't grow. Specific radiation treatments include:
- Dedicated CT simulator: Using this three-dimensional (3D) technology, staff position you on the CT scanner, perform a scan and reconstruct that scan to develop a personalized treatment plan.
- Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT): IGRT planning begins by using imaging scans to help direct radiation beams to cancerous tumors with precision and accuracy. Each following treatment day, the radiation team images the target to ensure your exact positioning, radiation beams and target, which optimizes daily treatment and minimizes radiation doses to normal tissue.
- Three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3-D CRT): In this type of treatment, a computer is used to create a 3-D picture of the tumor to conform or match the radiation beam to the shape of the tumor. Multiple radiation beams are aimed at the tumor from different angles, sparing normal tissue as much as possible.
- Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT): IMRT is an advanced type of 3D radiation that adapts to the shape of a tumor. With IMRT, not only are beams aimed at the tumor from several directions, the intensity or strength of the beams can be adjusted to minimize the amount of radiation that reaches normal tissue.
- RapidArc: A major advance in radiation therapy, Rapid Arc uses an improved type of radiation dosing that ensures even greater precision in the delivery of radiation beams to further spare the normal, healthy tissue. Treatment times are two to eight times faster using this method, meaning each visit is much more efficient.
- Stereotactic radiosurgery or radiotherapy: Stereotactic radiosurgery, or radiotherapy, uses precisely focused radiation beams to treat specific tumors and other abnormal growths in the brain, spine, liver, lung or other sites. Computers create 3-D images to guide doctors in delivering radiation to the target area with minimal exposure to surrounding healthy tissue. This type of treatment utilizes higher daily doses but a lower number of treatments.