Radiation therapy, or radiotherapy, has played a major role in treating women’s reproductive cancers for more than a century. Today radiation therapy remains an integral part of our multidisciplinary approach to several gynecologic cancers, including cancer of the uterus, cervix, vulva and vagina. Our team uses the most advanced technologies available today, to ensure precision targeting of cancerous cells. Our program is accredited by the American College of Radiology and the American Society for Radiation Oncology, reflecting the high level of quality, safety, and comprehensive services we provide.
A Targeted Treatment Plan
For early stage cancers, radiation therapy may be used after surgery if there is a high risk the cancer may return. In other patients, radiation therapy, with or without chemotherapy, may be preferable. If the cancer has spread, radiation therapy may help improve quality of life by relieving symptoms.
We use two types of radiation therapy to treat gynecological cancers: external beam radiation therapy and internal radiation therapy.
External Beam Radiation Therapy
External beam radiation therapy uses a machine to treat cancer within the body and involves a series of daily outpatient treatments. The treatments are painless and similar to getting an X-ray. Sessions usually take less than half an hour, Monday through Friday, for 5-6 weeks.
We offer the most advanced, most precise radiotherapy technologies available today, including:
- Three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT)
- Intensity modulated radiation therapy. (IMRT)
Both approaches deliver remarkably precise, high doses of radiation that conform to the specific tumor size and shape, while avoiding the surrounding healthy tissue. In addition, image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) is often used to track the tumor during treatment. IGRT techniques include using implanted gold markers and X-rays, or CT imaging on our TomoTherapy® system, to localize or visualize the tumor prior to each treatment.
Internal Radiation Therapy
Internal radiation therapy delivers treatment by using radioactive sources placed into the vagina, uterus and/or surrounding tissues to kill the cancer cells. This type of therapy is also called:
- Internal radiotherapy
- Intracavitary radiotherapy
For best results, internal radiation therapy is usually done at the same time or after external beam radiation therapy.
Brachytherapy is important in the treatment of vaginal, cervical, and uterine cancers. We use high-dose rate brachytherapy, which usually does not require a hospital admission. The entire procedure typically takes a few hours. In some simple cases, treatment can take less than an hour. Depending on the type of cancer you have, you may need several sessions of brachytherapy.
You Can Have Confidence in Our Team
Our team of physicians, technicians, dosimetrists, and physicists monitor you closely to ensure you are receiving the correct dose, at the right time, in the right place. Our radiation oncologists work closely with your other doctors to give you the benefit of a team approach—a team that also includes social workers, dietitians, and nurses.