Radiation & Oncology Treatment Center

… Beyond precise. We’re fighting prostate cancer with the most powerful, precise and accurate radiation system in the world. Read below to learn why this is important and how it affects your care.

The basic physics behind radiation:

Radiation therapy uses energy rays to target and kill cancer cells. These rays work by destroying the DNA in cells it targets which leads to cell death. Unfortunately, rays can also affect healthy, non-cancerous cells and this can lead to side effects from radiation treatment. Therefore, it is extremely important to be able to precisely target cancer cells while minimizing collateral damage to the nearby healthy cells.

Radiation is generally delivered from a machine outside the body (external beam radiation) but can also be given by placing radioactive implants inside the body (brachytherapy). External beam radiation (EBRT) is generally delivered in the form of photon beams. A photon is a form of electromagnetic energy that can be thought of as a bundle of energy. Photons are created in a linear accelerator and then delivered to the patient.

The two system used at Regional Urology are the Varian Trilogy® and Clinac® iX.

The Varian systems are a step above the rest. An unparalleled guidance system allows Trilogy’s ultra-precise robotics to make sub-millimeter adjustments before each daily treatment. CT image guidance is utilized to exactly locate the prostate for treatment and there is no need for transrectal placement of metallic markers (this is still needed with proton therapy; see below for more information). Precision beam sculpting finely conforms to individual tumor shapes leading to increased tumor targeting will less effects on nearby tissue. Gated RapidArc® radiotherapy allows rapid compensation for patient breathing and tumor motion while delivering the dose leading with faster treatment times (as short as 2 minutes!) and more precise delivery.

There are many ways to deliver radiation therapy to a patient and are all available on the Varian systems:

  • Three-Dimensional Conformal Radiation Therapy (3D-CRT)
  • Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)
  • Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)
  • Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT)

All uses a form of cross sectional imaging such as a CT scan and highly advanced computer technology to deliver radiation to very precise targets. The versatility of our system allows a personalized treatment plan that is most appropriate for you.

What to expect:

A team of highly trained medical professionals will be involved in your care during radiation therapy. This team is led by a radiation oncologist, a doctor who specializes in using radiation to treat cancer. Please click here to learn about your radiation oncologist, Dr. Jeffrey Chen.

You will start by meeting Dr. Jeffrey Chen. He will develop a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs. During simulation you will undergo cross-sections imaging. The exact targeted area will then be precisely sculpted with highly advanced computer software, with the help of a physicist and a dosimetrist, to tailor your exact treatment plan. Daily treatments usually take only about 2 minutes after positioning, and most patients continue their same active lifestyle enjoyed prior to treatment.

What’s all the hype about proton therapy?

Proton therapy utilizes proton beams instead of the traditional photon beams discussed above. In theory they should deliver more radiation to the desired target with less to surrounding tissue. However, clinical trials have currently failed to support this theory and show no improvement in survival or side effects.

The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) doesn’t routinely recommend proton beam therapy for prostate cancer outside of a prospective clinical trial or registry. There is no clear evidence that proton beam therapy for prostate cancer offers any clinical advantage over other forms of definitive radiation therapy. Clinical trials are necessary to establish a possible advantage of this expensive therapy. Proton therapy also still requires placement of metallic markers through the rectum.


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