Radiation oncologists at Rush offer many treatment options and specialized procedures to direct radiation to the cancer while better sparing healthy tissues and organs.
Brachytherapy is when the radiation source is placed inside your body. Radiation oncologists at Rush use brachytherapy — radioactive seeds or wires are implanted into the cancerous area — to treat many cancers, including these types:
External beam radiation therapy
External beam radiation therapy uses a machine to direct radiation at a specific part of your body. The following types are available at Rush:
- Three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy: helps your doctor 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: uses 3-D CT images to determine the tumor’s shape and focuses high radiation doses on the tumor. It is used to treat prostate cancer and head and neck cancers.
- Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT): 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, breast cancer, head and neck cancers, brain cancers, and sarcomas.
Specialized radiation therapy procedures
Radiation oncologists use the following procedures to tailor treatment to particular cancers:
- Respiratory gating: synchronizes radiation therapy with a patient's breathing. The radiation beams turn on and off to deliver radiation only during certain points in a patient's respiration cycle. This better spares healthy tissue while treating lung, liver or breast cancers.
- Stereotactic radiosurgery: delivers a single, high dose of radiation using the TrueBeam STx system, which reduces treatment time and minimizes damage to healthy tissue. It is used to treat cancers of the brain and spine. Treatment is also available for trigeminal neuralgia and arteriovenous malformations.
- Stereotactic body radiation therapy: can accurately target small, well-defined tumors, such as in the lung or prostate. Treatment is usually over three to five sessions.
- Total body irradiation: often combined with stem cell or bone marrow transplant to treat cancers that are spread throughout the body, such as leukemias and lymphomas.
- Total skin electron irradiation: delivers radiation to the entire skin surface while sparing internal organs. It is used to treat certain skin cancers, such as mycosis fungoides.