Radiation therapy works by damaging the DNA of cancerous cells, causing them to die or reproduce more slowly. A technique that was pioneered more than 100 years ago, the field has advanced tremendously in the past decade. New 3D imaging techniques, coupled with sophisticated planning software, have allowed radiation oncologists to localize and treat even small tumors with unprecedented accuracy.
Carefully Calibrated Care
We use radiation therapy in a variety of ways, depending upon your specific diagnosis and the size of the tumor. We may use it:
- before surgery, to shrink the tumor
- after surgery, to destroy any remaining cancer cells
- in combination with chemotherapy
Radiation Oncology: Surgery Without Incision
At Dignity Health, three uniquely qualified specialists―a medical physicist, a dosimetrist and a radiation oncologist―work together to determine the parameters for a course of radiation treatment. The medical physicist determines factors such as beam measurement and proper machine calibration. The dosimetrist helps determine an approach angle and dosage amount that will be most safe and effective. The radiation oncologist is the physician who coordinates the team and oversees the patient throughout the course of radiation treatment. Types of radiation oncology applications we may use are:
- brachytherapy, internal radiation therapy
- conformal 3-D radiation, for accurate radiation treatment
- dynamic adaptive radiotherapy (DART)
- image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT), for effective radiation treatment
- intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), for effective radiation treatment
- rapidArc radiotherapy
- stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS)
Typically, you receive daily radiation cancer treatments, Monday through Friday, for three to eight weeks, depending on the type of cancer. Side effects will vary based on the part of the body receiving radiation. Most side effects are temporary and you can work and remain active throughout radiation cancer treatments.
For more information, please view our Gynecologic Oncology Surgery page, or call us to Find a Doctor.