The Lipson Cancer Center offers the latest in radiation oncology technology
Radiation therapy, sometimes called radiotherapy or irradiation, is the use of various forms of radiation to safely and effectively treat cancer and other diseases. Radiation oncologists may use radiation therapy to try to cure cancer, to control the growth of the cancer or to relieve symptoms, such as pain. More on Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy can be delivered in two ways, externally and internally. During external beam radiation therapy, the radiation oncology team uses a machine to direct high-energy rays at the cancer. Internal radiation therapy, also called brachytherapy, involves placing radioactive sources into or close to the area to be treated, for example, MammoSite and prostate brachytherapy.
External Beam Radiation Therapy
During external beam radiation therapy, a beam of radiation is directed through the skin to a tumor and the immediate surrounding area in order to destroy the main tumor and any nearby cancer cells. To minimize side effects, the treatments are typically given every day for a number of weeks.
Three-Dimensional Conformal Radiation Therapy (3D-CRT)
Tumors usually have an irregular shape. Three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy, or 3D-CRT, uses sophisticated computers and computer assisted tomography scans (CT or CAT scans) and/or magnetic resonance imaging scans (MR or MRI scans) to create detailed, three-dimensional representations of the tumor and surrounding organs. Your radiation oncologist can then shape the radiation beams exactly to the size and shape of your tumor. The tools used to shape the radiation beams include multileaf collimators that are installed in the head of the linear accelerator and custom made cerobend blocks that are placed in front of the head. When the radiation beams are very precisely directed and appropriately shaped, nearby normal tissue receives less radiation exposure.
Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)
Intensity modulated radiation therapy, or IMRT, is a specialized form of 3D-CRT that allows radiation to be more exactly shaped to fit your tumor. With IMRT, the radiation beam can be broken up into many “beamlets,” and the intensity of each beamlet can be adjusted individually. Using IMRT, it may be possible to further limit the exact amount of radiation that is received by normal tissues that are near the tumor. In some situations, this may also allow a higher dose of radiation to be delivered to the tumor, increasing the chance of a cure.
AcQSim is a modified CT scanner that meets the requirements for conformal and high-precision radiotherapy planning. It helps radiation oncologists to visualize and localize the tumor and critical anatomy. After the images are acquired, marks are put on the patient’s skin which will later guide the radiation therapist in setting the patient in position for his/her treatment. The AcQSim has replaced the older technique for treatment planning that relied on plain film X-ray studies and general anatomical guidelines. CT simulation allows visualization of tumors and surrounding critical structures not previously visible on X-ray simulator images. The CT images obtained can be further enhanced when fused with images from other modalities. Images from a MRI or PET scan, where the tumor maybe better visualized, can be digitally fused with the images generated by the AcQSim. An AcQSim dedicated to oncology patients and positioned within our department assures that every patient receives accurate, technologically advanced treatments in a timely manner.