At Sutter’s nine cancer centers, radiation oncologists use a range of radiation therapies to destroy cancer cells and spare healthy tissue. Medical imaging technologies, including X-ray, MRI, CT and PET, are used to design your care plan. Your cancer care team will work with you to choose the right treatment method based on your cancer type and health situation. Here are some of the radiation therapy options available.
External Beam Therapy
A beam or beams of high-energy X-rays generated by a linear accelerator are delivered to the tumor, killing the cancer cells. The technologies listed below help focus the treatment precisely where it's needed, targeting cancer cells while sparing the surrounding normal tissue.
- 3-D Conformal Therapy — Delivers a radiation dose that is shaped to conform to the tumor and avoid healthy tissue.
- Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) — Provides precise targeting with frequent imaging when the tumor is likely to move (lung or prostate) or is near critical organs.
- Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) — Delivers radiation in hundreds of segments, focusing specifically on the shape of the tumor.
- Tomotherapy — Used to target the radiation dose across a tumor in carefully delivered “slices.”
- Varian RapidArc® and Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy (VMAT) — Delivers radiation in a 360-degree rotation around the patient.
Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS)
High-energy radiation beams replace scalpels in SRS, used to treat some brain tumors that can’t be removed with surgery or that require extreme precision. When used to treat body tumors in the lung, liver, prostate and spine, SRS is called stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT). SRS and SBRT machines use stabilizing devices to prevent patient movement and high-precision technology to ensure precise targeting.
For some cancers, the best treatment is to place a radiation source in or near the tumor. During this type of treatment, called brachytherapy, a catheter or other device is used to place a radioactive source inside your body to specifically target the area that needs treatment. Depending on your type of treatment, the radioactive source can be placed temporarily or permanently.
Intraoperative Radiotherapy (IORT)
Some patients with bile duct, breast (PDF), colorectal, ovarian, pancreatic and spinal cancer can receive a concentrated dose of radiation to the surgical site after a tumor has been removed in the operating room. This may prevent the inconvenience of returning for radiation therapy treatments following surgery.
Used for aggressive brain cancer, Optune allows sustained treatment over the course of the day using a wearable device. You may be able to walk around, take a trip or maintain your daily routine during treatment. It is given with the chemotherapy drug temozolomide following standard treatments.
Radiolabeled Antibody Therapy
Some forms of lymphoma may be treated by injecting an antibody with a radiopharmaceutical attached, which is designed to bind with and destroy the cancer cells.