Approximately 50 to 60 percent of all cancer patients are treated with various forms of radiation therapy at some point during the course of their disease. Radiation therapy uses high energy x-rays directed specifically at the cancer site to destroy or shrink the cancerous tumor, and can be administered internally or externally. The most common use of radiation is external radiation that can be administered in an outpatient treatment center. Advanced, targeted external radiation therapies are used to more accurately pinpoint the tumor while preventing exposure to as much normal tissue as possible.
As with other treatment approaches, radiation can be used alone or in combination with surgery or chemotherapy. Oftentimes it's used prior to surgery to shrink the tumor. After surgery it can be used to destroy any cancerous cells that may have been left behind. In addition, radiation can help relieve discomfort resulting from tumors pressing on bones, nerves or other organs.
Located in the same building as our Edmonds Puget Sound Cancer Centers, visiting your doctor and receiving treatment is made even more convenient and time-efficient. As an affiliate, Swedish Cancer Institute is our preferred provider of radiation oncology services. Some more highly technical radiation oncology treatments are available in other Swedish Cancer Institute locations.
While most radiation therapy is administered externally, it can be used internally as well. Also known as implant radiation therapy, brachytherapy uses a radioactive substance that is sealed in tiny implants that are then placed directly into the cancerous site.
IMRT (Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy)
IGRT (Image-Guided Radiation Therapy)
Our patients have access to IMRT and IGRT treatments, both advanced forms of radiation therapies. IMRT uses a computerized treatment system to precisely deliver radiation to a complex, three-dimensional target (the tumor), while minimizing injury to surrounding tissue.
IGRT uses image guidance with a precise, all-digital device that allows the radiation oncologist to track tumor position during a course of treatment, even if it’s moved, changed shape of reduced in size between treatments. With IGRT, once a CT scan has accurately sited and defined the tumor, physicians can match the radiation beam to the precise shape and location of the tumor, reducing overall the amount of radiation needed over time. Plus with IGRT, implanted markers are rarely necessary. Previously untreatable tumors, due to their proximity to vital organs or the spinal cord, can now receive treatment.
TomoTherapy combines the 3D imaging with an all-in-one CT imaging and the rotational delivery of the intensity-modulated radiation. It’s a completely painless procedure – like getting a CT scan – and delivers thousands of programmed, narrow “beamlets” of radiation as it rotates around the patient. TomoTherapy can be used to deliver a short, intense course of treatment.
Cyberknife and Gamma Knife Radiosurgery
Even though it’s called Radiosurgery, it isn’t the kind of surgery you’d think of. Instead, Cyberknife uses computerized, robotic equipment to deliver beams of high-dose radiation from many angles to target and destroy tumors - even very small ones - anywhere in the body. Patients typically go in wearing their street clothes and return to their normal activities afterwards. Gamma Knife is often used to target and treat neurological conditions.