What is Radiation Therapy?
Radiation therapy is a common treatment that can be used alone or with other forms of treatment. Radiation treatments before surgery can mean less extensive surgery or can reduce side effects of a more advanced cancer. New treatments are highly targeted and offer great precision that minimizes side effects and limits damage to healthy tissue.
Machine-created gamma rays are aimed at a tumor and at the surrounding tissue. The energy kills the cells by breaking their DNA bonds.
Stereotactic Radio-Surgery (Gamma Knife)
Gamma rays are aimed from different angles to meet at the tumor site. Healthy surrounding tissue does not receive the full dose aimed at the tumor.
During this ultra-precise therapy, proton particles are deposited directly on the tumor. This option is used on areas that have already received traditional radiation.
Radiation Therapy Treatment Teams
Led by a radiation oncologist, your radiation therapy team is comprised of highly trained cancer care professionals. The integrated team works together to monitor progress and adjust treatments. The team also works with other physicians and healthcare professionals to ensure therapy is as effective as possible.
Teams include some or all of the following professionals:
- Radiation oncologists are board-certified physicians who develop and implement radiation treatment plans. They are specially trained in radiation oncology and board certified by the American Board of Radiology.
- Radiation oncology nurses are licensed registered nurses or licensed practical nurses who assist patients and radiation oncologists. These nurses often hold specialty certifications in oncology care and are a valuable resource for patients and families.
- Radiation therapists deliver prescribed treatments and assist patients before and after treatment sessions. Many are licensed and certified in this area of care.
- Dosimetrists help radiation oncologists create a treatment plan by computing the dosage of radiation prescribed. They are certified by the Medical Dosimetrist Certification Board.
- Medical physicists develop and direct quality control for equipment and procedures, and ensure treatments are specially tailored to patients. Medical physicists are certified by the American Board of Radiology or the American Board of Medical Physicists.
- Social workers provide supportive social and financial care, services and guidance to patients and their families.
- Nutritionists help patients develop eating strategies during treatment and are a resource for food-related side effects and issues that can impact treatment and day-to-day living.
- Physical therapists can help patients struggling with pain or side effects during treatment by teaching strategies that help improve body function.