External Beam Radiation Therapy
Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)
We are well equipped to treat practically any malignancy with ground-breaking Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT). With our state-of-the-art radiation therapy equipment, we are able to deliver more precise treatment than during conventional radiation therapy.

IMRT is an advanced mode of high-precision radiotherapy that utilizes computer-controlled x-ray accelerators to deliver precise radiation doses to a malignant tumor or specific areas within the tumor. IMRT allows for the radiation dose to conform more precisely to the three-dimensional (3-D) shape of the tumor by modulating—or controlling—the intensity of the radiation beam. Conformal radiation treatments have the ability to deliver a higher radiation dose within the tumor, causing more damage to the tumor and less damage to surrounding healthy tissues.

Treatment is carefully planned by using our advanced 3-D computed tomography (CT) images of the patient in conjunction with computerized dose calculations to determine the dose intensity pattern that will best conform to the tumor shape. Typically, combinations of several intensity-modulated fields coming from different beam directions produce a custom tailored radiation dose that maximizes tumor dose while also protecting adjacent normal tissues.

Because the ratio of normal tissue dose to tumor dose is reduced to a minimum with the IMRT approach, higher and more effective radiation doses can safely be delivered to tumors with fewer side effects compared with conventional radiotherapy techniques. IMRT also has the potential to reduce treatment toxicity, even when doses are not increased. IMRT does require longer daily treatment times and delivers a low dose to larger volumes of normal tissue than conventional radiotherapy.

Currently, IMRT is being used most extensively to treat cancers of the prostate, head and neck, and central nervous system. IMRT has also been used in limited situations to treat breast, thyroid, lung, as well as in gynecologic malignancies and certain types of sarcomas. IMRT may also be beneficial for treating certain types of pediatric malignancies.

The end result is better tumor control, less damage to healthy tissues and structures in the treatment area and a better quality of life for the patient.

Patient Fact Sheet: External Beam Radiation Therapy

Internal Radiation Therapy
High-Dose Rate (HDR) Implants
Brachytherapy is when a protected radiation source is placed directly within or near the tumor site. Brach therapy is sometimes also called internal radiation therapy.

High-dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy involves placing a protected source of high energy radiation directly within the tumor and using radioactive plaques, needles, tubes, wires, or small "seeds" made of radionuclides. These radioactive materials are placed over the surface of the tumor or implanted within the tumor, or placed within a body cavity surrounded by the tumor.

In this type of brachytherapy, the radiation source is in place for 10 to 20 minutes at a time and then taken out. Course of treatment can be twice a day for 2 to 5 days or once a week for 2 to 5 weeks. The treatment schedule depends on the type of cancer. During the course of treatment, the catheter or applicator may stay in place, or it may be put in place before each treatment. Once treatment has been completed, the doctor will remove the catheter or applicator.

Whereas low-dose rate (LDR) brachytherapy places radioactive materials inside the body for extended periods of time, the high energy of the source used in HDR brachytherapy (usually Iridium-192) means that doctors can deliver equivalent doses of radiation in just a few minutes by inserting and then removing the radioactive beads. Thus, HDR brachytherapy is usually performed as a short series of outpatient procedures.

Southland Radiation Oncology Network offers HDR brachytherapy to gynecological cancer patients and in clinical trials of mammosite brachytherapy to breast cancer patients. In addition, patients with head and neck cancer, gynecological cancer, pulmonary cancer, and other local regional tumors can be considered for HDR brachytherapy on an individual basis.

Patient Fact Sheet: Brachytherapy