What is Radiation Oncology?
Radiation oncology is the treatment of cancer with radiation. Radiation treatments can be used to shrink a tumor, stop the growth of cancer cells, prevent cancer from spreading, and reduce the symptoms of cancer. Fifty to sixty percent of all patients diagnosed with cancer receive radiation treatments.
The radiation oncology staff primarily includes Radiation Therapists, Dosimetrists, and Radiation Physicists (who are contracted). In addition, someone from the radiation or nursing staff assesses patient progress and sees patients on a regular basis.
Dosimetrists plan and calculate the proper radiation dose for treatment. They use special, computerized equipment to make a personalized treatment plan for each patient. They also set up the treatment simulation which includes marking the skin around the area to be treated and assisting with special CT scans if needed.
Radiation therapists are specially trained to run the equipment which delivers the radiation treatment. They treat patients daily according to physician orders. In addition, they provide patient education to patients and their families and explain the treatment process.
Radiation physicists make sure the radiation equipment is delivering the right amount of radiation to the treatment site. They perform quality control tests, measurements, and calculations to ensure patients receive the correct radiation dosage and to ensure all radiation equipment is operating properly.
Patients undergoing radiation treatment are also seen by someone from the radiation or nursing staff on a weekly basis to monitor their overall progress.
Radiation Oncology Services Provided At:
Cancer Care Center of Decatur
Cancer Care Center of O’Fallon
Crossroads Cancer Center (Effingham)
DMH Cancer Care Institute at Cancer Care Center of Decatur
HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Radiation Oncology Center at Cancer Care Center of O’Fallon
HSHS St. Mary’s Cancer Care Center (Decatur)
Sarah Bush Lincoln Regional Cancer Center (Mattoon)
What to expect if you are referred to CCSI for Radiation Oncology Services?
Patients referred to CCSI for radiation therapy meet with a physician called a radiation oncologist who will review their history and medical records, perform a complete physical exam, and determine if radiation treatment is appropriate.
Radiation Oncology Treatment Options:
IMRT (Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy)
A computerized method of continuously altering the x-ray beam strength in the patient’s treatment field to allow for a smooth even distribution of radiation across the cancerous tissue while minimizing radiation to the surrounding normal tissues.
TomoTherapy Hi Art is a radiation treatment delivery system that looks like a CT scanner. In fact, it was designed from the ground up to combine industry-standard imaging with innovative, helical radiation delivery. The result is an all-in-one device that brings great accuracy and precision to the treatment of all cancer sites.
Rapid Arc Therapy
A treatment technique in which the linear accelerator moves in a continuous arc about the patient. It greatly decreases patient treatment times and improves radiation dose distribution within the treated area.
A treatment technique in which a very high dose of radiation is precisely delivered in a single or very few treatment sessions over one to several days. It is used in the therapy of brain lesions (tumors or blood vessel malformations).
On Board Imaging
A technique that permits diagnostic quality x-rays to be taken with the patient in the treatment position on the liner accelerator. It is used to check patient alignment on a daily basis to insure very precise treatment delivery.
Before receiving radiation treatment, patients are scheduled for a simulation to develop their treatment plan. This includes preparing immobilization devices, marking the treatment area on the skin, possibly a special CT scan, and setting the treatment start date. Specially trained radiation therapists give the radiation treatments. Treatments are usually given 5 days a week for 2-8 weeks, depending on the patient’s treatment plan. Although set up for the first treatment takes longer, it usually takes about 15-20 minutes to set up and give daily radiation treatments.