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Radiation Oncology, also known as Radiation Therapy, is the medical specialty that treats cancer with radiation and is part of our Cancer Services. It is administered in the form of gamma rays or x-rays designed to destroy cancer cells, while allowing the adjacent normal cells to repair themselves. Radiation is the preferred form of treatment for some types of cancer, and in other cases it is used in conjunction with surgery or chemotherapy.
Recent advances in computerized radiation therapy have improved both the accuracy and results of treatment, with fewer and less severe side effects. This precision allows us to now offer IMRT (Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy) for certain types of cancer treatment. The computer treatment panning system takes into account the exact tolerance levels of the surrounding tissues when designing the optimum dosage for the size and shape of the tumor. This highly sophisticated technology spares low tolerance areas, while administering high doses to the tumor.
The effect of radiation on cells is extremely complex, and varies according to the type and location of the cancer cells. This explains why some cancers can be treated with radiation, while others are resistant and little or no benefit can be achieved by using this treatment. The sharp definition of the radiation beam delivered by our linear accelerator provides precise irradiation of cancer cells, while adjacent tissues are spared from unnecessary radiation exposure.
A full-time physician, board certified in radiation oncology, directs our Radiation Oncology Program. The radiation oncologist works with the patient, primary care physicians, and oncologists to develop the best treatment plan. Our radiation oncologist uses computerized treatment planning to design an individualized radiation therapy regimen based upon the type of cancer and its location, as well as the patient's age, general physical condition, and other health and psychological factors. With the aid of CT simulation, the radiation oncologist tests the plan by verifying the treatment parameters, and checking the process to guarantee that the actual treatment will be as precise as possible. In addition to planning and monitoring radiation treatments, the radiation oncologist is involved in the patient's overall well-being during and after radiation therapy. This includes monitoring nutritional status and treating any side effects that may arise. The radiation oncologist also has access to a nationwide network of cancer treatment centers, as well as individual cases reviewed by the hospital's tumor board.
A team of professionals supports the radiation oncologist. Physicists assist in the treatment planning, calculation of the appropriate radiation dosage, and the potential risk to normal tissues. Radiation therapists operate our complex treatment machines delivering the precise radiation doses to the tumor site and assist patients in controlling side effects and other concerns relating to radiation treatment.