Radiation Therapy or Radiation Oncology is a true-targeted therapy with treatment directed precisely at the site of the cancer. It may be used as part of a larger treatment strategy that includes a systemic therapy either chemotherapy or endocrine-based therapy or it may be administered alone. The science behind radiation oncology continues to make rapid advances in scope and technique, thus reducing side effects and sparing healthy tissues by targeting the disease more precisely.
- External Beam Radiation employs highly focused beams of energy that are directed at the cancer cells from outside the body. The planning and delivery of these beams are built upon a three-dimensional model of the individual patient, created from CT and MR scans of the patient. This 3-dimensional conformal planning uses these scans to show the exact location of the cancerous cells and the normal nearby organs, so that the safest delivery route can be determined.
- IMRT, or Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy, is a particular type of 3D conformal radiation delivery that is well-suited to breast cancer treatment. Using this sophisticated technique, each of the beams is modified to reduce the risk of injury to nearby normal organs, like the heart and lung while delivering higher doses to the tumor itself.
- IGRT, or Image Guided Radiation Therapy, is a further improvement in IMRT that takes into account the fact the target and normal tissues may actually move during the time that treatment is being delivered. By using special imaging techniques or CT scans obtained immediately before each treatment, slight modifications in the setup can be made instantly that will improve the safety of the treatment by taking these motions into account.
- INTRABEAM™ Radiotherapy System
Women with early stage breast cancer often have breast conserving surgery (or a lumpectomy) to remove the cancerous tumor, followed by five to seven weeks of external radiation therapy of the whole breast about one month later. The INTRABEAM Radiotherapy System allows physicians to offer an alternative treatment called targeted IntraOperative Radiation Therapy (IORT). This new procedure greatly reduces radiation exposure and the length of treatment time by delivering a single treatment of radiation therapy from inside the breast while the patient is still on the operating table.
- RapidArc™ Radiotherapy Technology
In keeping with our commitment to providing the highest standard of patient care and to maintaining state-of-the-art capabilities, we are pleased to announce that Alta Bates Summit Comprehensive Cancer Center is the first in Northern California to offer cancer patients a new, precise and fast form of cancer treatment: RapidArc™ radiotherapy.
For some patients, our new RapidArc technology enables us to deliver an image-guided IMRT (intensity-modulated radiation therapy) treatment two to eight times faster than is possible using other treatment techniques. RapidArc treatments are consequently far more comfortable for the patient, who spends significantly less time in daily treatment, without any compromise in treatment precision.
- TomoTherapy® is a new technology for IMRT delivery that divides a single radiation beam into many smaller, narrow "beamlets" that precisely conform to the tumors and minimize damage to surrounding healthy tissues.
- Accelerated Partial Breast Irradiation (APBI)
You may qualify for a new form of radiation treatment for early stage breast cancer that is delivered over a shorter period of time (5 days) than standard external beam radiation (4-8 weeks). This therapy treats only part of the breast and is an option for many patients with early stage breast cancer. There are two types of APBI.
- External Radiation
Multiple small beams of radiation are used to target the lumpectomy site. Only part of the breast is treated and it is non-invasive.
- Internal Radiation (Brachytherapy)
This treatment is an invasive procedure where a large plastic catheter or multiple small plastic catheters are inserted in and/or around the lumpectomy site. The ends of the catheter(s) are hooked up to a radiation pellet that will irradiate the part of the breast that has been implanted. Again, only part of the breast is treated. Get more information on Brachytherapy.
To select a radiation oncologist visit our Breast Cancer Specialists web page.