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How We Treat Cancer
Radiation Oncology Services
Linear Accelerator: A linear accelerator is a special machine controlled by super computers that delivers high-energy X-rays to cancerous tumors. Just as with an X-ray, the treatment is non-surgical and the patient will not feel anything; the treatments are brief and done primarily as outpatient visits. All treatments using the linear accelerator are considered external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) that uses multiple-beam energies from outside the body to target interior tumors. Its use can reduce some side effects of radiation treatment.
3D Conformal Radiation: The tumor is pinpointed using 3-D planning technology and is treated from multiple angles with beams that can be shaped to conform to the tumor's size and dimensions, sparing healthy tissue and organs.
Intensity-Modulation Radiation Therapy (IMRT): Used for difficult to reach tumors, the intensity of the X-ray beams can be adjusted with great accuracy to match the exact shape of the tumor, even if it is irregular in shape (below: head and neck IMRT).
Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT): improves the accuracy of radiation placement and reduces the exposure of healthy tissue during radiation treatments by tracking the movement of tumors that may move because of breathing or other bodily functions. A cone-beam scan is done prior to treatment so patients real-time image and is matched to the planned radiation treatments. This allows the radiation oncologist to adjust to the radiation beam to remain focused on the tumor.
4-D Localization: Takes images that capture the location of the tumor, its movement and the movement of the body's organs to accurately treat tumors located near body organs that move.
Volumatric Arc Modulated Therapy (VMAT): Radiation therapy that uses a single or multiple radiation beams to sweep in uninterrupted arcs around the patient to dramatically speed the treatment delivery and reduce treatment times to a few minutes.
Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS): A very specialized non-surgical procedure that delivers precisely targeted radiation at much higher doses in a single treatment or just a few treatments. Used mostly for brain tumors.
Stereotactic Body Radiosurgery (SBRT): A very specialized non-surgical procedure that targets tumors within the body by delivering precisely targeted radiation at much higher doses in a single treatment or just a few treatments.
High-Dose Rate Brachytherapy (HDR): In Western Pennsylvania, we are one of only three hospitals that offers Mammosite brachytherapy. In fact, Monongahela Valley Hospital’s brachytherapy program is internationally recognized by the American Brachytherapy Society for our published research.
Brachytherapy is internal radiation therapy that places a high-energy radiation source inside the tumor or near the tumor for brief periods of time. This advanced technology can be used in conjunction with other radiation treatments. This treatment is not used in conjunction with chemotherapy.
Mammosite® Accelerated Partial Breast Irradiation (APBI) - specialized brachytherapy
This reduces breast cancer treatments from six-weeks (33 total treatments, one each day) to five days (10 treatments, twice each day).
Low-Dose Rate Brachytherapy primarily (LDR)
Used to treat lung cancers, LDR is a surgical procedure performed by a thoracic surgeon, radiation oncologist and a physicist. They place several tiny radioactive "seeds" the size of a grain of rice on a surgical mesh. They implant the mesh on the tumor and it is treated over a long period of time until the radiation becomes inactive.
Toshiba Large Bore CT Scanner/Radiation Simulator with Varian Respiratory Gating System
This Computerized Tomography (CT) scanner was added in 2014 and is located on the Radiation Oncology floor; it is used for the planning stage of radiation therapy. The CT is used to locate the tumors and pinpoint the normal structures. This CT is more open and feels less confining to patients. It's more comfortable and can accommodate larger patients easily.