The radiation oncology program at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago applies disease-specific expertise, state-of-the art technology and compassion to combat a wide range of cancers and other conditions.
For many cancer patients, radiation is a critical piece of their treatment plan. Radiation therapy, when used alone or in combination with other treatments, such as chemotherapy and surgery, can kill cancer cells and help patients beat their disease. Depending on a patient's condition, radiation therapy can also be used as a palliative treatment to reduce pain and improve quality of life. Since each patient has different needs, we offer a variety of options — from standard techniques to leading-edge therapies.
Each member of the radiation oncology team focuses on treating specific types of cancer. Therefore, they have specialized knowledge of the nuances of treatment and how to most effectively use the technology available at Rush to achieve the best possible outcomes.Services Provided
Advanced Radiation Therapies
The thoughtfully designed, patient-friendly radiation oncology program offers a full range of treatment options that can more accurately direct a high dose of radiation to the tumor with a lower risk of affecting surrounding tissues and organs.
In addition to brachytherapy — where tiny radioactive seeds are implanted into the cancerous area — the program offers the most advanced approaches in external beam radiation therapy, including the following:
- Three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy - a technique that help doctors visualize the tumor with CT or MRI scans and then shapes multiple beams of radiation to fit the tumor’s size and shape. It is used to treat many different types of cancer.
- Intensity-modulated radiation therapy - a treatment that uses 3-D CT images to determine the precise shape of the tumor and focuses high radiation doses on the tumor, better sparing healthy tissue. It is used to treat prostate and head and neck cancers.
- Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) - a state-of-the-art approach that repeatedly images the tumor during treatment and continuously adjusts the radiation beams so that a higher dose of radiation can be more precisely delivered to the tumor. Doctors at Rush deliver IGRT using the TomoTherapy Hi-Art System and Varian Trilogy system to treat prostate cancer, head and neck cancers, brain cancers, and sarcomas.
Radiation oncologists at Rush use specialized radiation therapy procedures to better tailor treatment to particular cancers, including the following:
- Respiratory gating - a technology to synchronize radiation therapy with a patient's breathing. The radiation beams are continuously turned on and off to deliver radiation during only the optimal point of the patient's respiration cycle. This better spares healthy tissue while treating lung, liver or breast cancers.
- Stereotactic radiosurgery - a highly specialized treatment that delivers a single, high dose of radiation to treat brain tumors, some head and neck tumors and abnormal blood vessels in the brain. Beginning in spring 2010, it will be used for spinal tumors as well.
- Total body irradiation - a treatment that may be combined with stem cell or bone marrow transplant for cancers that are spread throughout the body, such as leukemias and lymphomas.
- Total skin electron irradiation - a complex treatment for select types of skin cancers, such as mycosis fungoides, that can deliver radiation to the entire skin surface while sparing internal organs.
Radiation oncologists use their expertise to deliver state-of-the-art radiation therapies, which are critical to each patient's individualized treatment plan. Below is a list of other ways radiation treatment is tailored to each patient:
- The radiation oncology team works together to monitor each patient as a whole, addressing patients' needs sometimes beyond what they're coming in to treat. When the unexpected is noticed, staff work to ensure that patients receive the proper care they need, whether it's extra fluids or a trip to the emergency room.
- Detailed skin care education helps patients minimize the side effects of radiation treatment and maintain the highest quality of life possible, both during and after treatment.
- The radiation oncology team educates patients on issues specific to their cancer, such as oral health education for patients with head and neck cancers.
- The compassionate, caring staff work with patients to meet their scheduling needs and to make the entire treatment process as smooth as possible.
Comprehensive Cancer Care
The radiation oncology program is part of the comprehensive cancer care available at Rush. Visit the Cancer Programs and Treatment home page for more information.
Rush is committed to helping patients and their families cope with the psychological, emotional and spiritual effects of cancer.
- In partnership with the American Cancer Society, Rush offers a patient navigator to assess individual patient needs and provide information about available treatments, community services and programs.
- Through the Cancer Integrative Medicine Program, patients have access to therapies that complement their medical treatments, such as acupuncture, biofeedback, herbal counseling, massage and yoga.
- A dietitian is available to discuss nutrition.
- A psychosocial oncologist can offer insights on dealing with the emotional and psychological effects of a cancer diagnosis.
Research to Advance Medicine
As an academic medical center, Rush is dedicated to improving patient care through research and education. Physicians at Rush are also faculty members of Rush University as well as active researchers focused on bringing the latest advances in health care directly to their patients through clinical trials. For a current list of clinical trial opportunities, visit the clinical trials home page.Clinical Team
Care in the radiation oncology program is a team effort, accomplished by radiation oncologists, radiation therapy technologists, dosimetrists, physicists, nurses and support staff. The radiation oncology team works closely with patients and their physicians to develop comprehensive treatment plans and deliver the best treatments for each individual. For profiles of physicians specializing in radiation oncology and related areas at Rush, click on the Find a Doctor link in the menu on the left.
Radiation Oncology Leadership
Chairperson - Ross A. Abrams, MD
Medical physics director - James C. Chu, PhD
Administrative director - Debra Arendziak, BA, MBA
Chief radiation therapist - Amy Mottola-Camodeca, BS, RTT
Chief nurse - Carrie F. Daly, MS, RN, APN, AOCN
Patient services manager - Shawnda Mays, BS, CPC, ROCC
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Rush Radiosurgery: Rush Radiosurgery offers the latest in advanced radiosurgery technology, TrueBeam STx. A powerful, noninvasive radiosurgery system, TrueBeam STx destroys cancerous and benign tumors with high-dose, highly accurate radiation beams while minimizing damage to healthy tissue.