Radiation therapy is one of the most common treatments for cancer and is used in more than half of all cancer cases. During radiation therapy, our experts use special equipment to deliver high doses of radiation to cancerous tumors, killing or damaging them so they can't grow, multiply or spread. Although some normal cells may be affected by radiation, most appear to recover fully from the effects of the treatment. Other names for radiation therapy include radiotherapy, X-ray therapy and irradiation.
The Radiation Oncology Program at Hulston Cancer Center is accredited by the American College of Radiology.
Types of Radiation Therapy at CoxHealth
Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)
IMRT allows the precise delivery of multiple beams of high-dose radiation that are focused on and contoured to fit the shape of a tumor, thanks to inverse treatment planning with state-of-the-art equipment and computer software. IMRT allows radiation oncologists to hit the tumor harder and more accurately than ever before, while sparing surrounding healthy tissue.
Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)
IGRT allows the precise delivery of radiation to the tumor by positioning off implanted internal markers and bony anatomy, as opposed to traditional external markers or tattoos, to provide a highly accurate and reproducible positioning method. This allows radiation oncologists to deliver a higher dose more accurately, providing superior patient treatment while minimizing damage to healthy tissue.
MammoSite Radiation Therapy System
CoxHealth was the first in the area to treat breast cancer with the MammoSite Radiation Therapy System, an advanced treatment for early-stage patients. The typical course of radiation for a breast cancer patient ranges from six to eight weeks of external beam radiation therapy, five days a week. This type of radiation usually affects the whole breast. An advantage to the MammoSite system is that it delivers radiation inside the lumpectomy cavity–the location with the highest chance of cancer recurrence–while saving the surrounding healthy breast tissue from radiation. This helps reduce side effects and can help achieve a good cosmetic result. If you meet the criteria for MammoSite the treatment is concluded in five days, with treatments twice daily. Not all women are eligible, so it's important that you discuss treatment options with your physician.
Permanent Seed Brachytherapy
This is a treatment option for cancer of the prostate gland. It involves the placement of tiny, radioactive seeds directly into the prostate gland using ultrasound guidance. The seeds that are implanted emit a low radiation dose that is highly confined to the prostate gland with little affecting the surrounding tissue. This confined therapy helps reduce bowel and urinary side effects such as incontinence or impotence. The seeds stay in place permanently. Prostate seed brachytherapy is most beneficial to patients with early stage prostate cancer that is confined to the prostate gland. Because the procedure is completed in one day, it's a convenient option for prostate cancer patients.
High Dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy
CoxHealth was the first facility in Southwest Missouri to offer HDR brachytherapy for treatment of the prostate gland. It's similar to permanent prostate seed therapy, but radiation isn't left permanently in your body. As with the prostate seed procedure, catheter-like needles are placed under the guidance of ultrasound into the prostate gland. Then a temporary, high dose-producing radiation source is administered. HDR requires admission to the hospital and is always combined with five weeks of external beam radiation. However, there are some major benefits: HDR is more versatile and is the most precise way to deliver radiation to the prostate gland; HDR can deliver high radiation doses to the extra capsular tissue and seminal vesicles, allowing for treatment of more advanced prostate cancer; and, HDR can sculpt the radiation dose to fit the gland's anatomy, boosting the dose to the tumor and delivering less radiation to the rectum and urethra.