Treatment Options and New Technologies
The Department of Radiation Oncology at St. James Healthcare features cutting edge radiation therapy treatments and equipment. Our modern technology enables patients to receive the newest advances in radiation therapy, as well as a wide range of treatment options - all designed to best meet the patient's needs and ensure the highest level of quality health care.
Among the treatment and treatment planning/delivery technologies offered are:
- 3D Conformal Radiation Therapy -- A specialized way of tightly conforming the radiation therapy fields to treat only the tumor or area of interest while minimizing the dose to adjacent critical structures.
- Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) -- The leading-edge in radiation therapy technology available today. It attacks cancer by delivering small beams or "beamlets" of radiation with varying intensities from many different angles, which provides the radiation oncologist a degree of control and precision impossible with other techniques. This reduces side effects and makes it possible to deliver a higher radiation dose, which can result in higher rates of cure.
- Brachytherapy -- A form of radiation therapy through which the radiation source is implanted directly inside the tumor to attack the cancer from within or in the area "at risk" (i.e., where cancerous cells potentially exist). Brachytherapy is commonly used at St. James for certain types of brain tumors and for certain specific gynecologic cancers.Brachytherapy (pronounced "breaky-therapy") is a form of radiation therapy which treats patients by implanting the radiation source directly inside the tumor, to attack the cancer from within or in the area "at risk" (i.e., where cancerous cells potentially exist).
Brachytherapy is most often used to treat cancers of the prostate, cervix, endometrium and head & neck area, although it can be used almost anywhere in the body. The technique uses tiny amounts of radioactive materials sealed inside needles, wires, tubes or pellets called "seeds," since they are about the size of a grain of rice.
These radioactive implants typically are inserted under local anesthesia, without surgery, on an outpatient basis, although some implants require hospitalization. Implants can eliminate cancer, while sparing the amount of normal tissue that is irradiated. Unlike external beam radiation, the radiation from implants does not have to go "from-the-outside-in" and may help decrease side effects. The radioactive implants may be inserted on a temporary or permanent basis. Temporary implants are removed after a certain period of time; permanent implants are left in the implanted tissue and the radiation decays over time.