Treatment: Radiation Oncology
The Cracchiolo Radiation Oncology Center
For many types of cancer, radiation therapy is a highly effective treatment. It can be used alone or in combination with surgery or chemotherapy. It may be used to shrink a tumor prior to surgery or during or after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells.
Simply put, radiation therapy uses radiation energy to kill cancer cells. Using specialized equipment, our radiation oncologists use x-rays, electron beams, or radioactive isotopes to precisely target cancer cells or tumors, carefully limiting the amount of healthy tissue exposed to the rays. Radioactive implants may also be used to treat cancer with internal radiation.
Some patients experience side effects, which vary depending on your type of treatment and dose. For example, you may feel fatigued or nauseous or have hair loss or red, dry or irritated skin. While these side effects can be uncomfortable, most side effects disappear once your therapy is finished.
About our Team of Experts
At the Cracciolo Radiation Oncology Center, our staff members put your needs at the forefront. That means scheduling treatment times that meet your needs and offering convenient service that helps you to relax and concentrate on healing.
Our team is comprised of specialized doctors (radiation oncologists), dosimetrists, medical physicists and nurses, as well as dieticians, msuic therapists and social workers to assist with your overal well-being.
About our Treamtent Technology
The Cracciolo Radiation Oncology Center team provides treatments with world-class equipment on the leading edge of technology, including:
This treatment begins with a CT scan. That information is fed into sophisticated computer programs that help our team develop a treatment plan. The three-dimensional (3D) conformal computerized treatment planning is created based on your individual data and will deliver high radiation doses to the tumor. It can help cure or locally control cancer while minimizing radiation to the surrounding normal tissues and organs.
For our youngest patients, comprehensive daily consultative services and radiation therapy ensure every possible advantage. Our approach is multidisciplinary, and includes weekly general tumor boards, and monthly neuro-oncology tumor board meetings. Our external beam radiation therapy treatments include photons (3-D conformal therapy) and electrons, and interstitial or intercavitary High Dose Rate (HDR) radiation therapy with Iridium-192. Full pediatric anesthesia services are available when needed. Clinical research programs are also available to our patients, including pediatric Hodgkin’s disease protocols, and collaboration in the Pediatric Oncology Group, National Wilms’ Tumor Study, the Intergroup Rhabdomyosarcoma Study, and the Childhood Cancer Survivors Study.
BAT stands for B-mode acquisition and targeting, a new technology that optimizes the radiation treatment of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is challenging because it is a moving target. BAT uses 3-D ultrasound images to pinpoint the exact location of the prostate each time a patient is treated. This enables our doctors to direct radiation to the precise spot and avoid damaging healthy organs.
IMRT, or Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy, utilizes revolutionary inverse treatment planning and computer controlled linear accelerators to deliver treatments. Using images from a CT scan, our team and computer system select from millions of combinations of beam intensities, shapes, and angles, precisely shaping radiation beams to match tumor, matching the radiation dose to the contour of the tumor while minimizing the impact on surrounding healthy tissue and organs. This technique is often ideal for treating areas in the body where there are healthy critical structures near tumors. It has been used to treat tumors in the brain, head and neck, spinal cord, esophagus, kidney, lung, lower extremities, prostate, abdomen, chest, and cervix. The major advantage of IMRT is that this type of treatment can deliver a higher tumor dose than standard external beam treatments while at the same time delivering a lower radiation dose to adjacent healthy tissue.
High-dose rate remote after-loading brachytherapy (HDR)
HDR brachytherapy treatments utilize a small high intensity radioisotope source which is directly inserted into or near tumors. This technology can be used to treat tumors in almost any body site and is often ideal for head and neck, pulmonary, prostate, and gynecological cancers. HDR brachytherapy treatments have been shown to be as effective as traditional low dose rate (LDR)brachytherapy. Their advantage lies in its ability to deliver high localized doses of radiation to a tumor quickly, optimizing the dose to tumor while limiting the dose to adjacent vital organs. These treatments can often be performed on an outpatient basis. Treatments only last a few minutes and are performed in a shielded room. Following the treatments no radiation safety precautions are needed since no radioactive material remains in the patient.
Stereotactic Body Frame®
Stereotactic conformal radiotherapy is designed to treat small targets in abdominal, thoracic and pelvic regions with minimal exposure to surrounding tissues. The Stereotactic Body Frame® is used to rigidly hold the patient in a precise position and, in combination with a CT scan, defines a stereotactic coordinate system to precisely localize a target structure. This precision allows fornew clinical procedures such as dose escalation and hypofractionation which increases efficiency and helps reduce your total treatment time.
Patients who have undergone angioplasty and stent placement can experience restenosis — a re-narrowing of the artery due to scar tissue from the angioplasty itself. This restricts blood flow and can lead to angina or chest pains within six months after angioplasty surgery. Our intervascular radiation therapy is a leading-edge technique which gives the artery a small, intense blast of radiation that can prevent the scar tissue from forming.
The MammoSite® devise is a special balloon catheter which is surgically implanted into the breast during or following lumpectomy. It allows for precise HDR treatments to the lumpectomy cavity. This treatment option is only available for certain early stage breast cancers. When eligible, this leading-edge treatment option is often ideal for breast conservation surgery patients. During a five-day treatment period, we deliver a dose of radiation from inside the space left after a cancerous tumor is removed. This targets the area most likely for tumor recurrence and minimizes radiation exposure to healthy tissue.