Radiation therapy delivers high doses of radiation to specific areas of the body to treat cancer. It is used to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors. It is also used to relieve pain and other cancer symptoms to help improve your quality of life and address other problems caused by tumors, such as difficulty breathing.
Is Radiation Therapy Right for Me?
The Rush radiation oncology team customizes your radiation therapy plan to meet your needs and assure your safety. The following factors determine whether radiation therapy will benefit you:
- The type of cancer
- The size of the tumor
- Whether the cancer is limited to a small area (localized) or spread (metastasized)
- Where in your body the cancer is located
- How close the cancer is to vital organs and sensitive tissues
- Your age, current health and health history
- Whether you will have other types of cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy or surgery
- Your personal wishes
Types of Radiation Therapy at Rush
- External beam radiation therapy is delivered by a linear accelerator that moves around your body without touching you. It aims radiation at the cancer, not the whole body — which helps protect healthy tissue. This therapy is given daily over several weeks, with the specific number of treatments varying. This type of radiation therapy includes the following:
- 3D conformal radiation therapy, uses specialized imaging to plan radiation to match the tumor in three dimensions
- Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), uses intensity-modulated beams from multiple directions to deliver higher doses of radiation to specific regions within the tumor.
- Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), uses a single high dose of radiation to treat functional abnormalities and small well-defined tumors of the brain.
- Stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT), targets small, well-defined body tumors
- Total body irradiation, treats cancers that have spread throughout the body
- Total skin electron irradiation, delivers radiation to the entire skin surface while sparing internal organs
- Internal radiation therapy places the radiation source directly inside the body at the site of the cancer, rather than delivering radiation through the skin. This includes the following:
- Brachytherapy, radioactive seeds or wires placed at the site of the cancer.
- Intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) for breast cancer, a one-time concentrated radiation treatment given during a lumpectomy to target the area of the breast most at risk for recurrence while sparing healthy tissue and organs.
- Specialized procedures and techniques that include the following:
- Respiratory gating, to synchronize radiation therapy with a patient’s breathing
- Prone breast irradiation, to give heart and lungs less exposure to radiation during treatment, the patient lies on stomach
- Accelerated breast irradiation, whole breast irradiation cuts treatment time in half
- Deep inspiration breath hold, to minimize the amount of radiation exposure to the heart during treatment
- Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT), to deliver a higher dose of radiation more precisely to the tumor, the radiation team images the tumor before every treatment.
Rush Excellence in Radiation Therapy
- Nationally recognized program: U.S. News & World Report ranks Rush University Medical Center among the nation's top hospitals for cancer care.
- Specialized expertise: Rush radiation oncologists focus on treating specific forms of cancer, which helps them better understand treatment nuances.
- Innovative treatments: The Rush team strives to give each patient the most effective dose of radiation while minimizing harsh side effects. Very precise techniques are used to deliver radiation only where it is needed to protect healthy tissue.
- Convenient treatment locations: We offer radiation therapy at a number of convenient locations, including Chicago, Oak Park and Aurora/Fox Valley.