What is Radiation Therapy?
Radiation Therapy is a non-surgical cancer treatment where radiation is delivered either through external, non-invasive high-energy rays from a linear accelerator or through seed implants inserted near the tumor. Radiation therapy is used to destroy or damage cancer cells so they are not given the chance to multiply.
A linear accelerator, equipped with a special device called a multileaf collimator that shapes the radiation beam, delivers the radiation in and around the patient to send radiation beams from the most favorable angles. This gives the tumor a high dose of radiation while preserving important healthy tissues.
The following are the varieties of radiation therapy we provide:
External Beam Radiation
This painless technique, which only takes several minutes per treatment, involves directing a "beam" of radiation from outside the body to focus on the cancerous internal organ or tissue. The treatments are typically given every day for a number of weeks to minimize side effects.
Radiosurgery (one-session treatment) is a radiation therapy treatment mechanism in which high doses of radiation are delivered using a very precise beam during a single treatment. Radiosurgery's changes are considered surgical because of the dramatic effect on the target zone.
Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) treats cancers and tumors with a very exact delivery of radiation targeted at the tumor from various angles. The linear accelerator rotates around the patient for optimal delivery of the radiation while avoiding healthy tissues and sensitive organs. This form of radiation destroys or distorts the DNA of the tumor cells and, in result, they lose their ability to reproduce.
Brachytherapy, also referred to as seed implant therapy, is a form of internal radiation which allows the doctor to apply greater more targeted doses of radiation to a more condensed area in a shorter period of time than is possible with external radiation treatment. There are two major forms of brachytherapy, Low-Dose Rate and High-Dose Rate.
Low-Dose Rate Seed Implantation is a procedure which involves implanting radioactive seeds into the affected area, minimizing radiation exposure to surrounding tissues while permitting a higher dose in the area of the cancer. Generally, the patient can resume normal daily activities within several hours of this procedure.
High-Dose Rate Seed Implantation places a high-energy radiation source (seeds) inside the body near the tumor for just a few minutes and is then removed. The radiation only affects a very small, targeted area in and around the tumor. Highly localized doses of radiation are allowed to be delivered to the tumor quickly. Due to the precision of this technique, patients often experience fewer overall side effects from therapy.
Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)
This state-of-the-art treatment gives radiation oncologists the power to "sculpt" the edges of a tumor with precision, sparing the neighboring healthy tissue. Patients experience significantly lower side effects and are offered the potential of higher cure rates with IMRT. IMRT can be used to treat tumors that might have been considered untreatable in the past due to close proximity of vital organs and structures.
IMRT delivers high doses of radiation directly to cancer cells in a very targeted way, much more precisely than is possible with conventional radiotherapy. IMRT can deliver higher radiation doses directly to cancer cells while sparing more of the surrounding healthy tissue. IMRT uses computer-generated images to plan and then deliver tightly focused radiation beams to cancerous tumors. Physicians use IMRT to exquisitely "paint" the tumor with a precise radiation beam that conforms as closely as possible to the shape of the tumor.
Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)
Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) is a process that enables radiation oncologists to see a targeted tumor with increased accuracy. IGRT imaging technology improves the precision and effectiveness of cancer treatments by giving doctors the ability to track and adjust for tumor positions more accurately at the moment of treatment.
What Are the Goals of Radiation Therapy Treatment?
What Are the Side Effects of Radiation Therapy?
Typically, side effects are limited to the parts of the body that receive treatment. Fortunately, most side effects will go away in time.
Trilogy's ultra-precise robotics accurately tracks and adjusts for tumor movements at the moment of treatment, then targets cancer and neurological lesions with sub-millimeter accuracy. Trinitas is currently the only hospital in New Jersey with the Trilogy® technology.
This new technology offers new hope to patients who might not have other options. It helps protect healthy organs and tissues. In the case of head and neck tumors, for example, we can now target a tumor while preserving the patient's ability to talk and swallow. Trilogy gives us the ability to precisely target tumors that lie extremely close to critical anatomy like the heart, spinal cord, lung, rectum or salivary glands.
The Trilogy fully-robotic imaging system can be used to deliver all forms of external beam radiotherapy, including 3-D conformal (3D-CRT) to customize the radiation beams to match the shape and contours of the tumor, intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) that varies the radiation doses according to the dimensions of the tumor, image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT), and Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS), precisely focused overlapping beams that deliver radiation treatment in single or multiple sessions. The Trilogy stereotactic technology can be used to treat prostate, lung, liver and pancreatic cancers as well as brain tumors.
The extraordinary power and flexibility of the Trilogy system assures us that we can design a treatment plan that gives our patients the best and most appropriate treatment possible. By combining the most powerful radiotherapy treatment machine with high-quality dynamic targeting imaging, tracking, and monitoring devices, Trilogy allows us to deliver the most accurate treatments possible in the shortest amount of time. That translates into faster treatments, greater patient comfort, and the potential for better outcomes.
Radiation therapy is used today in more than half of all cancer treatments due to its unique clinical advantages and it is becoming steadily more effective with new technologies that permit ultra-precise dose delivery. With this new Trilogy system, Trinitas Comprehensive Cancer Center has the potential to substantially improve cancer treatment outcomes by doing a better job of protecting healthy tissue while delivering more powerful radiation doses to tumors and other abnormalities.