Radiation Therapy For Cancer Patients
Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) Radiation Oncology treats cancer patients who need radiation therapy. This type of treatment is designed to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells. About half of all cancer patients get radiation therapy during their care.
HCI offers a wide range of radiation treatments. These include:
- Brachytherapy, or internal radiation
- Prostate seed implant or internal radiation for prostate cancer
- Stereotactic radiosurgery for tumors of the central nervous system, including the brain and spine
- Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) for cancers in the lung, prostate, and other areas of the body
- Total body irradiation
- Proton Therapy Center
Our patients and their cancer care teams can choose the best option for their unique needs. Radiation therapy at HCI is available to both children and adults.
Why Choose HCI for Radiation Therapy?
HCI's radiation oncology department is internationally recognized. We have one of the widest selections of radiation therapy equipment in the United States.
Our team has extensive experience treating patients with all types of cancer. They work together to develop individual radiation therapy plans for each patient.
Our team's medical research advances the field of radiation therapy. The aim is more effective treatments with fewer side effects to patients.
All this experience means:
- Patients have access to many different treatment approaches. Other hospitals may offer only one or two types of radiation therapy.
- Our experts are often among the first in the world to offer new radiation therapy advances. This includes ways to deliver radiation and to target the tumor accurately.
- We offer clinical trials for cancer patients who need radiation therapy. Patients can access new treatment approaches available at only a few research hospitals in the nation.
Our team of specialists provides outstanding care for each patient. Their research helps create new kinds of radiation therapy for cancer patients. HCI is often among the first places in the world to offer the latest radiation therapy advances.
Your care team will include these experts:
- Physicians (radiation oncologists). Radiation oncologists are doctors who specialize in radiation treatment for cancer.
- Medical physicists oversee the safe use of radiation technology.
- Dosimetrists who are experts in precise radiation dosages
- Advanced practice providers and nurses
- Radiation therapist technicians
- Medical assistants
- Oncology-Certified nurses
- Scheduling coordinators
Our Medical Physics Experts
Medical physics experts at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) oversee all treatment and imaging technology used in your treatment. They ensure that you safely get the best treatment to meet your needs. They participate in research to develop new and better ways to use radiation therapy in cancer treatment.
The medical physicists oversee a team of dosimetrists. HCI's dosimetrists recommend the equipment to use for your cancer treatment. They also calculate how much radiation to use on your specific tumor. They are experts at matching radiation beams to the tumor's shape and position in the body. This focuses the radiation on the tumor and spares surrounding healthy tissues.
These professionals will work closely with you and your radiation oncologist.
Find a Radiation Oncology Doctor
Equipment and Technology
We use the most advanced technology for radiation therapy at HCI. This includes the latest imaging and techniques. These techniques guide radiation directly to the cancer and reduce damage to nearby healthy tissues.
Some of the imaging and tracking technologies we use for radiation therapy at HCI include:
- GPS tumor tracking
- 6-dimensional patient positioning via robotic couches
- ExacTrac stereo-planar imaging
- In-room CT on Rails
- In-room Cone Beam CT
- Calypso real-time Body GPS
- Real-time US imaging using Clarity Transperineal Ultrasound
- Optical Surface Guidance Technology
- 4-Dimensional (4D) Imaging
- Dual Energy CT imaging
- RFID Safety Technology to insure accurate patient setup
We offer many radiation therapy treatment approaches:
Brachytherapy for Breast Cancer
Brachytherapy for breast cancer is a type of internal radiation therapy. It is used for people who have had breast cancer removed by lumpectomy surgery. The radiation team puts a tiny radioactive source in the space where the lump was removed. The goal is to get rid of any cancer cells that may remain after surgery.
For some patients with low-risk breast cancers, this method has advantages over radiation to the entire breast:
- It can take a shorter time to complete.
- There may be less damage to healthy cells.
Learn more about Brachytherapy for Breast Cancer.
Brachytherapy or Internal Radiation for Cancers of the Cervix, Uterus, and Vagina
In this type of treatment, a radiation source is placed near the cancer for a short time. The radiation is focused on the tumor cells. Healthy cells in the rest of the body are protected.
Learn more about internal radiation for cervical cancers or internal radiation for cancer in the uterus or vagina.
Prostate Seed Implant or Prostate Cancer Brachytherapy
Permanent prostate seed implant is an internal radiation treatment for patients with prostate cancers. Tiny radioactive sources called seeds go inside your prostate gland. The radiation dose fades within about 12 weeks. Then the seeds become inert.
Learn more about the prostate seed implant.
Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) houses the region's first and only Proton Therapy Center. Learn more about proton therapy.
Stereotactic radiosurgery sends narrow beams of radiation into your cancer, from the outside in. The beams focus very precisely on tumors of any shape. This treatment is often used for tumors in the brain or central nervous system. It can also treat cancer in the lung, liver, and prostate. Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) offers The Edge® Radiosurgery System for Cancer Treatment.
The Edge® system is a non-invasive alternative to conventional surgery. Usually, patients do not have to stay in the hospital for treatment. Edge treatments usually take less than one week—only one to five sessions. Each session lasts less than an hour.
The Edge® system works by delivering large, targeted doses of radiation to destroy cancer cells. The radiation beam treats each part of the tumor from many different angles. Real-time tracking detects the slight movements of the tumor caused by breathing and other body functions. The radiation team can adjust the beam accordingly. This minimizes exposure to surrounding healthy tissue.
Edge radiosurgery is not appropriate for all cancers. Ask your doctor if the Edge treatment system is right for you.
Learn more about stereotactic radiosurgery.
Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT)
Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) sends pencil thin beams of radiation into your cancer. The beams can focus on a tumor of virtually any shape and causes minimal damage to nearby healthy cells. Cancer care doctors usually use SBRT to treat patients who have cancer in areas outside the brain, including the lung, liver, spine, and prostate. They often use it to treat cancers where surgery is not an option.
SBRT has benefits for certain types of cancers. These benefits include:
- SBRT can destroy small tumors without surgery.
- SBRT is very precise. A tumor moves slightly when you breathe. SBRT can track the motion of the tumor and help avoid damage to nearby tissues and organs.
- With SBRT, you need only one to five treatments. Other radiation treatments may require 10 sessions or more.
- You do not need to stay in the hospital for SBRT.
Learn more about stereotactic body radiation therapy.
Total Body Irradiation (TBI)
TBI is part of the treatment for bone marrow and stem cell transplants. It is a process used for both children and adults with cancer. TBI can kill cancer cells. TBI also weakens your immune system. This makes it possible for patients to receive bone marrow or stem cells donated from someone else because your body is less likely to reject donated cells when your immune system is weaker. Your transplant team from the Blood and Marrow Transplant (BMT) Program at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) are nationally recognized experts in BMT and will design a customized plan for your cancer treatment.
Learn more about total body irradiation for adults and for children.