Radiation oncology at the Overlake Cancer Center offers advanced radiation treatment in a comfortable setting close to home for those on the Eastside. Our specially trained radiation oncologists provide the most recent advances in radiation therapy, enabling you to receive faster, more precise treatments with fewer side effects.
One of the most common treatments in cancer, radiation therapy is used in more than half of all cancer cases. Radiation is often used in combination with other treatments, such as chemotherapy and surgery. It is the primary treatment for many kinds of cancer. The type of radiation and the length of treatment vary according to the type of tumor, location of the cancer, your overall health and the stage of your disease.
How Radiation Therapy Works
Radiation therapy destroys or damages cancer cells by using powerful, targeted X-rays (or gamma rays) that can be directed to many parts of the body. When cancer cells are damaged, they are not able to divide and grow. Because radiation stops cancer from growing, it may also be used to relieve pain and other symptoms, or to reduce the size of a tumor before surgery. For most patients, radiation therapy is given five days a week for five to seven weeks on an outpatient basis.
Expert Care and Support
Our philosophy is to provide treatment in an environment that supports and promotes the highest quality of life, sensitive to your individual physical, psychological and educational needs. Our broad range of care for patients, families and the community includes advanced cancer treatments, as well as support groups, nutritional counseling services, social services, oncology-certified nursing care and educational resources.
Advanced Radiation Technologies
Radiation therapy is composed of two treatment types: external and internal radiation.
External Beam Radiation Therapy
The most common type of radiation therapy, a high-energy beam is directed at the cancer with pinpoint accuracy. It destroys cancer cells while minimizing damage to the surrounding areas. Used to treat many types of malignancies, this treatment is painless and carried out over several weeks.
- 3D Conformal: The radiation beam is shaped to match the tumor. Multiple beams are used to increase dose to the tumor and limit dose to surrounding healthy tissue.
- Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT): IMRT uses a computer to generate a more complicated treatment plan to limit dose to organs that are near or touching the tumor, while still giving the tumor a therapeutic dose.
- Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT): IGRTs used in conjunction with other treatment modalities. X-rays are taken at the machine so daily internal anatomy can be used to help target the tumor.
- Respiratory Gating: Gating is a system that tracks a patient's normal breathing motion. This data is used in planning to selectively treat the tumor during certain parts of the breathing cycle.
- Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS): SRS is used to treat functional abnormalities and small, well-defined tumors of the brain. Delivery is typically one fraction of high-dose radiation.
- Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT): SBRT administers high doses of radiation over three to five sessions. Commonly used for small tumors in the lung.
Internal Radiation Therapy
This type of radiation treatment places a radioactive substance into your body, near or directly into the cancer site. It can be in the form of an implant, a pill or an intravenous fluid. Some internal radiation treatments may require an overnight stay, while others can be performed on an outpatient basis. Your physician will walk you through the options and post-treatment considerations.
- Brachytherapy: Brachytherapy is an internal radiation treatment that involves implanting radioactive isotopes, or "seeds," into the body near the tumor. These radiation sources can be removed following treatment or, in some cases, may remain in the body. Radioactive implants are used to treat a wide range of malignancies including prostate, breast, lung and cervical cancer.
- High-Dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy: HDR brachytherapy involves remotely sending the radioactive source into the body through an implanted applicator. The applicator is surgically implanted before treatment. Treatments typically last around 10-15 minutes.
HDR brachytherapy is a leading-edge treatment offering many advantages for women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. It uses a tiny device that is placed inside the breast where it delivers high doses of radiation to the area where cancer is most likely to recur. Traditional radiation therapy requires six weeks of treatment, while HDR brachytherapy can be completed in just five days. And, since radiation is delivered from within the breast, it limits the amount of radiation to healthy tissue and reduces possible side effects.