About Radiation Therapy at the Cancer Institute
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In radiation therapy, beams of energy or radioactive particles are aimed directly at a tumor or place in the body that has been invaded by cancer. The technique is so effective in treating some types of cancer that more than half of all patients with cancer receive radiation treatments.
Radiation therapy kills cancer cells or keeps them from growing and spreading. Radiation therapists shield normal tissue from the radiation, and radiation oncologists select treatment schedules that spread radiation treatments over time to minimize damage to normal cells. Some normal cells may be damaged by the radiation, but unlike cancer cells, most normal cells recover.
The Cyberknife® Radiosurgery System at JFK Medical Center
When Radiation is Used
More than half of all people with cancer are treated with some form of radiation therapy. Thousands of these people, whether they received radiation alone or in conjunction with other cancer therapies, are now living cancer free.
Radiation is often combined with chemotherapy, a systemic treatment that reaches all parts of the body through the bloodstream. Radiation can improve the outcomes of chemotherapy by providing another method of reducing tumor size. Chemotherapy can improve the outcome of radiation by sensitizing cancer cells to radiation effects.
When used before surgery, radiation can shrink a tumor and make it easier for the surgeon to remove.
Radiation can be used after surgery to stop any remaining cancer cells from growing, preventing the cancer from returning, or spreading to other parts of the body.
Unfortunately, cancer cannot always be stopped completely. For terminally ill patients, radiation therapy can improve quality of life by reducing tumor size, thereby reducing pain, pressure, and other cancer symptoms.
Types of Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy is essentially given in two ways: externally through a linear accelerator (external beam radiation), or internally by the implantation of radioactive sources (brachytherapy). The method your radiation oncologist chooses will depend on the type of cancer you have and the location of your tumor.
External Beam Radiation
- Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is high-precision radiotherapy that uses computer-controlled linear accelerators to provide specific radiation doses to a malignant tumor or areas within the tumor.
- 3-D conformal radiation therapy
- Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) with Cyberknife
- Stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) with Cyberknife or True Beam
- 3-D Virtual simulation with multi-modality Image registration including 4D CT, PET
- Image Guided target localization including ultra sound based, KV, X-ray based, CBCT-based
- Respiratory gated radiation therapy
Brachytherapy is a form of radiation therapy that implants tiny radioactive seeds directly into the tumor to kill cancer cells. The radiation dose is calculated to match exactly the size and shape of the patient's tumor or cavity, ensuring that the area receives the correct radiation dose while preventing unnecessary radiation to surrounding tissues.
Our brachytherapy program covers:
- Interstitial and intracavitary implants using Ir-192 radioactive seeds
- Mammosite or SAVI HDR brachytherapy for early stage breast cancer
- State-of-the-art HDR brachytherapy treatments for primary gynecological malignancies such as cervical, endometrial and vaginal cancers using CT and MRI compatible vaginal cylinder, tandem and ovoids, or Syed implant.