The FRHS Regional Cancer Therapy Center is home to the
only Radiation Oncology department in our area accredited by the
American College of Radiology.
We are Here for You
Our staff is always available to answer any questions that you may have.
Our Radiation Oncology nurses can help to manage your symptoms and any
side effects that you may experience. We also have Social Workers on site
to offer assistance and Dieticians to provide nutritional counseling as needed.
Radiation therapy is commonly used for cancer treatment; over half of
all cancer patients receive some type of radiation therapy during the
course of their treatment. Other names for radiation therapy are radiotherapy,
irradiation, radiation oncology, or x-ray therapy. Radiation can be given
alone or used with other treatments, such as surgery or chemotherapy or
hormone therapy. Some drugs act as radio-sensitizers and make the cancer
cells more sensitive to the radiation. Others can protect normal tissue
from treatment-related side effects.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to shrink tumors and kill
cancer cells. X-rays, gamma rays, and charged particles are types of radiation
used for cancer treatment. These all are called ionizing radiation because
they are energetic enough to break chemical bonds in the cell. The radiation
may be delivered by a machine outside the body (external-beam radiation
therapy), or it may come from a small x-ray machine or radioactive material
placed in the body near cancer cells (internal radiation therapy, also
The goal of radiation treatment is to damage cancer cells with as little
harm as possible to nearby healthy cells. Radiation kills cancer cells
chiefly by damaging their DNA (large molecules inside cells that control
the cell’s function and carry genetic information from one generation
to the next). Radiation therapy can also damage the molecules in normal
cells, leading to side effects. Doctors take into account the potential
damage to normal cells when planning a course of radiation therapy. The
amount of radiation that normal tissue can safely receive is known for
all parts of the body. Doctors use this information to help them decide
where to aim radiation during treatment and how to shape the dose around
the tumor. By varying the dose, shaping and timing of the radiation, differences
between tumor cells and normal cells can be exploited and tumors can be
more safely eradicated.
Types of Radiation Therapy
External-Beam Radiation therapy administers a broad beam of radiation
from one or several directions for each treatment. It delivers low-dose
beams of radiation from a few, up to 45 treatments - the intervals between
each treatment allow healthy tissue, damaged during treatment, to recover.
- 3-Dimensional Conformal Radiation Therapy (3D-CRT): One of the most common
types of external-beam radiation therapy is called 3-dimensional conformal
radiation therapy (3D-CRT). 3D-CRT uses sophisticated computer software
and advanced treatment machines to deliver radiation to very precisely
shaped target areas.
- Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT): Some patients benefit from
a more highly focused and shaped external beam therapy called Intensity
Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT). The goal of IMRT is to increase the
radiation dose to the areas that need it and reduce radiation exposure
to specific sensitive areas of surrounding normal tissue. Your Radiation
Oncologist will determine if IMRT is appropriate for you.
- Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT): In IGRT, x-ray images are taken
immediately before each daily treatment is delivered and the patient position
is adjusted using internal anatomy to make sure the treatment is on-target.
These images are used by the therapists (the staff that delivers your
treatment each day) to adjust your position so you receive precisely the
treatment your doctor has ordered.
- Radiosurgery uses small beams of radiation very accurately targeted to
the tumor. The small size of the beams and their arrangement allow a high
dose to be very accurately placed on a tumor, with a sharp fall-off of
dose outside the tumor. Because very little of the surrounding normal
tissue is treated, very large doses can be given to the tumor, typically
in one or a few sessions.
- CyberKnife® Stereotactic Radiosurgery: The CyberKnife is a form of
robotic radiosurgery designed to treat tumors anywhere in the body with
pin-point, sub-millimeter accuracy. With radiosurgery, damage to surrounding
healthy tissue is minimized; therefore the treatment can be completed
in 1 to 5 days. Targets that move, such as a lung tumor that moves with
breathing, can also be tracked throughout the treatment. Despite its name
there is no surgery involved.
- Internal radiation therapy (brachytherapy) is radiation delivered from
radiation sources (radioactive materials or tiny x-ray machines) placed
inside or on the body. Permanent interstitial brachytherapy uses radiation
sources about the thickness of a pencil lead placed within tumor tissue,
such as within a prostate tumor. The sources are surgically sealed within
the body and left there, even after all of the radiation has been given
off. The remaining material (in which the radioactive isotopes were sealed)
does not cause any discomfort or harm to the patient
- Radiation therapy is painless. You will not feel anything out of the ordinary
during treatment, although you will hear a buzzing sound. You are watched
throughout treatment and the machine can be stopped if you become uncomfortable.
As treatment progresses, some patients may experience treatment-related
side effects. The nature of the side effects depend on the normal tissue
structures being irradiated. The radiation oncologist will discuss and
try to help you