Using Radiation Therapy To Treat Cancer
Radiation is a crucial part of many cancer treatment regimens. High-energy x-rays or proton beams work to destroy malignant cells by shrinking or even totally eliminating cancerous tumors. At USA Health, our radiation oncologists use a broad array of the most current and effective radiation treatments and technologies to offer patients the best possible outcomes.
Radiation Oncology Technology at USA Health
Radiation oncologists use the following tools to help diagnose and treat cancer. For a more detailed explanation of each technology, scroll down the page.
Computed Tomography (CT)
Computed tomography is a diagnostic tool that our specialists use to create detailed imagery of various regions of the body. The images are created in slices and, together, can create a very accurate depiction of what the inside of the patient’s body looks like.
Positron Emission Tomography-Computed Tomography (PET/CT)
A PET/CT scan is a diagnostic tool that employs two techniques—positron emission and computed tomography—to help oncologists evaluate and stage the spread of cancer in a patient’s body.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
This diagnostic tool uses a computer, radio waves and magnetism to create a picture of internal organs and other structures within the body.
A linear accelerator creates a customized beam of radiation that matches the size and shape of a patient’s tumor. It directly targets a tumor while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy, normal tissue.
Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy(IMRT)
Generally, it’s important for a patient to remain completely still when receiving a radiation treatment, because of the harm that powerful beams of radiation can do to healthy cells. IMRT delivers an exact dose of radiation on the tumor from all angles, yet varies to match the subtle changes in a tumor’s location that occur, for example, as the result of a patient’s normal breathing patterns. At USA Health, we use IMRT technology known as the TomoTherapy system, the only one of its kind in the region.
Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)
Our radiation oncologists use a CT simulator to create a more accurate depiction of a patient’s tumor and how it is situated in the patient’s body. Using this simulation, the therapy can be administered more accurately so that healthy cells are less likely to be affected by the powerful radiation.
High Dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy
Historically, radiation treatment has involved external beam radiation therapy (EBRT). That is, a beam of energy from outside of the body passes through the patient’s skin and other organs until it reaches the tumor. With brachytherapy, radiation beads, or pellets, are delivered by catheter directly to the location of the tumor. Low dose rate brachytherapy seeds are implanted permanently, so the radiation, while less intense, is in the body longer. High dose rate beads are in the body a shorter period of time (usually 1 to 2 days), meaning the patient’s body is exposed to radiation for a shorter period of time.