What Is a Radiation Oncologist?
A board certified physician who specializes in using radiation to treat
cancer. People are referred to a radiation oncologist after a diagnosis
of cancer is made, and when treatment with radiation is considered.
What Is Radiation Therapy?
Radiation Therapy is the use of high-energy penetrating rays or subatomic
particles to destroy cells. There are several types of radiation including
x-ray, electron beam, alpha and beta particles, and gamma rays. Today,
more than 99% of patients worldwide requiring radiation interventions
are treated with photons or x-rays generated by means of linear accelerators.
How Does Radiation Work?
Both cancer cells and healthy cells are affected by radiation. Because
radiation has its greatest effects on tissue that divides rapidly such
as cancer; cancer cells are more susceptible to injury than normal cells.
This cell injury stops the cancer cells from reproducing or it can actually
destroy the cancer cell outright. Either way the tumor mass will begin
to shrink as the viable cancer cells are reduced in number. With each
treatment, more of the cells die and the tumor shrinks. The dead cells
are broken down, carried away by the blood and excreted by the body. Most
of the healthy cells are able to recover. However, the damage to the healthy
cells may cause long and short-term side effects related to the body area
The dose of radiation is determined by the size, extent, type and grade
of tumor and its known response to radiation. Complex calculations and
computer generated planning are performed to determine the dose distribution
and timing of radiation. Often, the treatment is delivered from many different
angles or a rotating beam in order to deliver the maximum amount of radiation
to the tumor and the minimum amount to normal surrounding tissues. Treatments
are generally given daily over a period of days or weeks to adequately
destroy the cancer cells.
Click Here to get your questions answered from the American Society for Radiation
Oncology new patient website!
Some things to remember about external beam radiation therapy:
- External beam radiation passes through your body and does not remain in
you. You are not radioactive.
- Only the body area in the field of radiation is affected.
- Normal cells exposed to radiation have the ability to repair themselves.
- The side effects that occur during radiation therapy are manageable.
Our board certified physicians provide consultation; treatment and follow-up
care for those who need radiation treatment for the management of their
cancer. Once a patient consents to a treatment course, we begin the panning
process. This can take up to 2-3 weeks depending on the complexity of
the case, but is usually completed within 4 days.
Treatment planning is accomplished by employing highly sophisticated computer
systems using cross sectional body images, which we acquire on our dedicated
CT scanner. This allows for the most accurate, focused radiation treatment
to the tumor or tumor bed without damaging the surrounding normal tissue.
The Center’s technically advanced linear accelerators, Varian Trilogy
with RapidArc and TomoTherapy HD are not only the best radiation technology
available but both are capable of IMRT (Intensity Modulated Radiation
Therapy). Additionally, they are both equipped with various IGRT (Image
Guided Radiation Therapy) technologies, such as cone beam CT, KV-KV matching
and intrafraction external contour tracking which support delivery of
precise customized and reproducible radiation treatments.
Some patients may require a radiation treatment using radioactive materials
injected or inserted temporarily or permanently into the body, which is
known as brachytherapy. Radioactive substances universally utilized in
brachytherapy procedures include iodine, strontium, samarium, iridium,
cesium and palladium. Brachytherapy is commonly employed to treat prostate
cancer, breast cancer, thyroid conditions and bone metastases. It is used
alone or in conjunction with external beam radiation treatments to offer
patients the best achievable outcomes. Permanent prostate seed implants
and partial breast irradiation via a balloon catheter (Mammosite, Savi
or Contura) are among the most frequently performed here.
Our Radiation Oncology Team considers both your present and future situations
when planning each individual’s Treatment plan. We are here to offer
people living with cancer a better life today and a greater potential
for healing tomorrow.
For more information on Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center's Cancer
Care Center, please call 909.865.9555.