Radiation Oncology department at Adventist Medical Center
offers many up to date technologies including Image Guided
Radiation Therapy (IGRT), Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy
(IMRT) and Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT). To
provide patients with the individualized care they need, our
staff is experienced in advanced approaches to treatment. In
addition, we offer the most advanced proven technologies and
facilities to provide the best care possible.
Our patients often receive other treatments such as
chemotherapy, hormone therapy or surgery as well as radiation
therapy. To ensure the best possible outcome, this
multi-disciplinary approach requires collaboration and
coordination among the specialists on a patient's treatment
team. Therefore, during your first visit you will meet with
your radiation oncologist. Your radiation oncologist may
consult with any other specialists necessary before your
treatment begins to determine the best course of action. In
addition, other members of the cancer support services may be
brought in to better help you successfully manage your
The major goal of radiation therapy is to maximize curing
cancer while maintaining optimal organ function and quality of
life. Because each patient's case presents unique challenges
and requires individualized attention, we urge you to consult
your radiation oncologist about which treatment plan is best
for you. It is extremely important to seek out an expert team
of board certified physicians who specialize in your type of
cancer to insure an optimal outcome.
What is Radiation Therapy?
Radiation therapy (sometimes called radiotherapy, x-ray therapy
or irradiation) is the treatment of disease using penetrating
beams of high energy waves or streams of particles called
Many years ago doctors learned how to use this energy to "see"
inside the body and find disease. You've probably seen a chest
x-ray or x-ray pictures of your teeth or bones. At high
energies (many times those used for standard x-ray exams),
radiation is used to treat cancer and other illnesses.
The radiation used for cancer treatment usually comes from a
special machine. Radiation therapy aims specific amounts of the
radiation at tumors or areas of the body where the disease is.
How does Radiation Therapy Work?
Radiation in high doses kills cells or keeps them from growing
and dividing. Because cancer cells grow and divide more rapidly
than most of the normal cells around them, radiation therapy
can successfully treat many kinds of cancer. Normal cells are
also affected by the radiation but, unlike cancer cells, most
of them recover from the effects of radiation.
To protect normal cells, doctors carefully limit the doses of
radiation and spread the treatment out over time. They also
shield as much normal tissue as possible while they aim the
radiation at the site of the cancer.
What are the Goals and Benefits of Radiation Therapy?
The goal of radiation therapy is to kill the cancer cells with
as little risk as possible to the normal cells. Radiation
Therapy can be used to treat many kinds of cancer in almost any
part of the body. In fact, almost half of all people with
cancer are treated with radiation.
For many cancer patients, radiation is the only kind of
treatment they need, Thousands of people who have had radiation
therapy alone or in combination with other types of cancer
treatment are free of cancer.
Radiation treatment, like surgery, is a local treatment-it
affects the cancer cells only in a specific area of the body.
Sometimes doctors add radiation therapy to treatments that
reach all parts of the body (systemic treatment), such as
chemotherapy or biological therapy, to improve treatment
results. You may hear your doctor use the term adjuvant therapy
for a treatment that is added to, and given after, the primary
What are the Side Effects of Radiation Therapy?
Physical side effects from radiation therapy are generally
confined to the area being treated. In general, many patients
will experience some overall fatigue near the third week of
treatment. Even though a treatment area may be small, the body
works hard during treatment to repair normal cells and
eliminate dying cancer cells from the body. It is important to
pamper yourself with extra rest and good nutrition during
Other general side effects may include some skin irritation and
reddening in the area of treatment after a few weeks. Radiation
will not make you nauseous unless the stomach is in the
treatment field. Patients will lose their hair if the area
being treated has hair and then hair loss will be specific to
the shape of the treatment field.
Additional side effects will also depend on the other therapies
being used to treat your cancer. Chemotherapy when given
together with radiation can enhance some side effects. Patients
treated in this fashion will be monitored closely by both the
Radiation Oncologist and the Chemotherapy Physician.
Most side effects from radiation therapy are easily managed
during the course of treatment. Any long term side effects will
vary dependent upon the area being treated. The Radiation
Oncologist will discuss the risks and benefits of treatment
during the initial office visit.