Medical College of Wisconsin radiation oncologists provide services at the Cancer Care Center.
Radiation oncology involves using a special kind of energy carried by waves or a stream of particles. Radiation has the ability to affect the structure of the cells. In cancer, localized fields of radiation energy are used to stop the growth of cancerous cells. These fields are generated by a highly specialized machine called a linear accelerator.
Radiation oncology is one of the main methods used to treat cancer, along with surgery and chemotherapy. It is also used to treat some non-cancerous conditions. The goal of treatment is to cure, control or relieve symptoms and the average course of radiation involves five consecutive daily treatments for five to six weeks. Each patient is monitored very closely to determine if the treatment is producing the desired effects.
Radiation oncology begins only after intense planning and preparation so that the treatment is very individualized to each person’s condition. At Community Memorial, advanced radiation therapy is provided by Medical College of Wisconsin radiation oncologists from the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Clinical Cancer Center. These physicians provide patient care at our Cancer Care Center.
The radiation oncologist who plans your treatment is a medical doctor with many years of specialized training in cancer and related diseases and radiation therapy. He or she will examine you and study your medical history. Your radiation oncologist will discuss your treatment plan with you and your primary care doctor.
Radiation Oncology Technology
The Cancer Network offers the latest technology in radiation oncology. The linear accelerator – technology most often used in radiation therapy - delivers “external beam radiation.” It uses electrically produced radiation, as opposed to a naturally occurring radioactive source such as cobalt. This electrically produced radiation allows for quicker daily treatments. Since many tumors are deep in the body, their location must be “mapped” using imaging techniques, so radiation can be delivered accurately and effectively.
One of the most advanced techniques for delivering external beam radiation is through intensity modulated radiation therapy, or IMRT. IMRT shapes the radiation dose to precisely match the shape of the tumor, so higher doses of radiation can be given with less risk of damage to normal tissues surrounding the tumor.
Image-guided radiation therapy, or IGRT, is a technology that takes the accuracy of radiation treatments one step further. It uses a built-in imaging device which allows us to superimpose the patient's anatomical features directly on the physician's treatment plan on any given day. Because the imaging scan and the therapy take place on the same table at the same time, our team can blend this data with patient positioning techniques to make targeting the radiation dose extremely accurate.
Before you begin radiation treatments you will undergo testing to determine exactly where the tumor site is located. You will then go through a "simulation" process to plan exactly where your treatment will be focused. Your skin may be marked to aid the treatment team to make sure your treatments are given to a consistent location. These marks will not be permanent on your skin. Our nurses will spend time with you before your treatments begin to ensure that you understand what to expect from your therapy and that all your questions are answered.
After your treatments begin, you will be followed closely by the treatment team by informing them of any problems or concerns that you are having so that these can be addressed promptly before they have a chance to develop into a larger problem. Generally, patients do not have any restrictions from the radiation treatments and are encouraged to remain as active as possible. After your treatments are completed, you will be followed by your treatment physician and monitored as needed.