radiation therapy  for cancer

overview

Radiation therapy is used to treat most types of cancer and even several noncancerous tumors. More than half of cancer patients receive radiation as part of their treatment course. 

Radiation can be given over several weeks or in a single high-dose treatment (called radiosurgery). There are different ways that radiation can be delivered. Beams of high-energy X-rays may be sent through your skin, or radioactive sources may be placed directly inside your tumor (this is known as brachytherapy).

Delivering radiation is a technical process, and it requires a team approach. A radiation oncologist, a doctor trained in radiation care, will lead your team. Other team members may include medical physicists, dosimetrists, treatment therapists and nurses.

services & treatment

We offer several types of specialized radiation therapy, such as:

Brachytherapy, delivered in a high or low dose.

  • High dose rate brachytherapy (HDR) uses a very intense radiation source, which is temporarily placed inside your tumor or near a cancerous mass. HDR brachytherapy is delivered quickly, typically in an outpatient setting. HDR brachytherapy can treat many types of cancer, including gynecologic cancers (cervical, endometrial or vaginal cancers), lung cancer and breast cancer. Sometimes HDR brachytherapy is combined with external beam radiation.
  • Low dose rate brachytherapy includes prostate seed therapy. Other treatment options include brachymesh, a surgical mesh that contains radioactive seeds. The mesh is used to treat lung cancer after a tumor has been surgically removed. The brachymesh is sewn directly over the surgical bed before your incision is closed. It remains permanently in your chest, where it treats the tumor site for several weeks before the radioactive seeds break down. 
Calypso® 4D Localization System: The Calypso® system is used in the treatment of prostate cancer and allows your doctor to deliver radiation therapy with targeted precision. First, 3 small electromagnetic transponders (which do not emit radiation) are placed in your prostate gland. The beacons send information to a GPS-like computer tracking system, which monitors the movement of your prostate gland as you’re receiving radiation therapy. Your doctor can make small shifts and corrections to the radiation delivery, which decreases the chance of damage to healthy tissue, allowing your doctor to use a higher dose of radiation treatment. This is an outpatient procedure that doesn’t require an overnight hospital stay. 

CyberKnife® radiosurgery: This innovative treatment uses highly focused beams of radiation to target cancer cells with pinpoint accuracy. The CyberKnife® can also precisely track moving targets (such as areas in your chest and abdomen that move when your breathe), meaning it can be used to treat lung cancer, as well as cancers of the brain, liver, pancreas, spine or pelvis. CyberKnife® radiosurgery treatment requires 1 to 5 outpatient sessions, each of which lasts between 30 minutes and 2 hours.

Image-guided radiation therapy: In this type of therapy, you’ll have an X-ray taken just before each radiation treatment. These images allow your doctor to more precisely target your cancer – sparing nearby healthy tissue and reducing the risk of side effects. IGRT is especially helpful in treating prostate cancer, since your prostate is located close to your bladder and rectum and its position shifts frequently. Acculoc® image-guided radiation uses 3 gold markers, which are placed inside your prostate gland to show its exact position on an X-ray. Your radiation oncologist may recommend Acculoc as a way of delivering a high dose of radiation to your prostate without damaging the surrounding tissues.

Intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT): Intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) is a special procedure in which radiation is delivered into an open incision during surgery. This technique is used when your surgeon finds cancer in your neck, chest, abdomen or pelvis that can be easily seen, but can’t be completely removed.
Treating your cancer, caring for you.
In addition to top-notch medical care, Aurora offers patients:

Find aCancer Specialist

Our search tool lets you find the doctor who's right for you.

Get a Second Opinion

Knowing all your options can make life's toughest decisions a little easier. 

Your LifeYour Health

myAurora makes it easy to manage your care online, anytime.