||Radiation oncologists are doctors who specialize in using high-intensity radiation to treat cancer in many parts of the body. Radiation therapy can cure a cancer by eradicating a tumor or preventing cancer to recur. Often, your physician will decide to combine a course of radiation with chemotherapy, surgery or both. Radiation therapy may also be given to relieve symptoms and reduce the suffering caused by cancer, such as shrinking a tumor that’s causing pain by pressing on the spine.
A radiation oncologist will develop your treatment plan beginning with a process called simulation. During simulation, detailed imaging scans show the location of your tumor and the normal areas around it. These scans are usually computed tomography (CT) scans, but they can also include other types of medical imaging studies.
The staff working with your radiation oncologist (including physicists and dosimetrists) use sophisticated computers to design the details of the exact radiation plan that will be used. After approving the plan, the radiation oncologist authorizes the start of treatment. Throughout the course of radiation therapy, safety checks are made frequently to ensure that the radiation beams are precisely targeting the cancer while sparing healthy surrounding tissues.
Radiation therapy services at the Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center include treatment options that promise to minimize side effects:
- Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT): While many forms of IGRT are possible, the most advanced and accurate form employs a diagnostic CT scanner that can image the tumor just prior to therapy. If the tumor has shifted due to the natural motions of the body, the radiation beams can be corrected before the radiation treatment.
- Hypofractionated IGRT for early stage lung cancer: In selected cases, a short or hypofractionated course of therapy, delivers significantly higher tumor control than the conventional longer treatment.
- Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT): This technique allows precise dose delivery into cancerous tumors and also restricts dose to normal surrounding tissue.
- Prostate seed implants: An alternative to external beam radiation therapy, radioactive seeds the size of rice, are placed directly into the prostate gland and removed at the end of the therapy.
The Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center radiation oncology service is accredited by the American College of Radiology.
For appointments or for questions, call 252-744-1888 or 800-223-9328.