Radiation Therapy

Overview

Patients of the Community Cancer Center benefit from personalized, compassionate care and advanced radiation therapy involving minimal disruptions to their everyday activities. Our OHSU staff physicians constantly evaluate new treatment developments so we can incorporate the most appropriate treatment for you. One of the most significant advancements in the field of radiation therapy has been the development of shorter, more convenient treatment regimens that allow patients to finish treatment sooner and get back to their lives. Another key development is the increased number of indications for stereotactic ablative radiotherapy, a technique which involves delivering a highly conformal, high dose of radiation to a tumor over just one to five treatments.

In addition to state-of-the-art equipment, and full accreditation from the American College of Radiology, CCC offers a staff that rivals any in the Pacific Northwest for training and skill in the planning and delivery of radiation treatments. Our medical personnel are licensed by the state of Oregon and certified by nationally recognized organizations in their respective fields of expertise. CCC staff members undergo an average of 80 hours of continuing education each year to ensure our patients receive the latest in comprehensive care.

How Radiation Therapy Works

Radiation therapy kills cancer cells by causing damage to the DNA. Cancer cells whose DNA is damaged beyond repair stop dividing and/or die. When the cancer cells die, they are broken down and removed by the body.

Cancer cell death from radiation is not immediate. It takes days or weeks of treatment before the accumulated DNA damage leads to cancer cell death. Then, cancer cells keep dying for weeks or months after radiation therapy has ended.

TYPES OF RADIATION THERAPY

There are two main ways to deliver radiation therapy – either via external beam radiotherapy (most commonly using a linear accelerator) or internally delivered radiation called brachytherapy. A third and less commonly used type of radiation treatment involves the consumption or injection of a radioactive material such as radioactive iodine for certain thyroid cancers or radium 223 for prostate cancer that has spread to the bones and is no longer responding to certain systemic treatments. The type of radiation therapy chosen depends on many factors, including:

  • The type of cancer
  • The size of the tumor
  • The tumor’s location in the body
  • How close the tumor is to normal tissues that are sensitive to radiation
  • Your general health and medical history
  • Whether you will have other types of cancer treatment
  • Other factors, such as your age and other medical conditions

External beam radiotherapy

With external beam radiotherapy X-rays are created in a machine and the shape of the field is modified to cover the specific area of the body at risk of having the cancer while avoiding the nearby healthy organs and tissues. The machine that delivers the radiation does not touch the patient, but can move around him or her, sending radiation to the targeted part of the body from different angles. Like an X-ray or CT machine for imaging, therapeutic radiation is not seen or felt.

Internal radiation therapy

As the name suggests, this is a treatment in which a source of radiation is temporarily placed inside the patient’s body. Internal radiation therapy with a solid source is called brachytherapy. In this type of treatment, seeds, ribbons, or capsules that contain a radiation source are placed in the body, in or near the tumor. Like external beam radiation therapy, brachytherapy is a local treatment and treats only a specific part of your body.

About Our Radiation Therapy Technology

The Community Cancer Center’s TrueBeam™ Radiotherapy System enables our team to take advantage of the significant benefits of intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) which makes it possible to deliver treatments more quickly and precisely while monitoring and compensating for tumor motion. This opens the door to new possibilities for the treatment of lung, breast, prostate and head and neck cancers, as well as other cancers that are treatable with radiotherapy. TrueBeam also allows CCC to offer complex stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) with RapidArc for select treatments, including lung cancer.

Our Treatment Capabilities

The vast majority of cancer patients for whom radiation therapy has been prescribed can benefit from state-of-the-art care available at Community Cancer Center without having to leave their own community. While our capabilities cover the gamut of diagnoses, the most common cancers we treat are breast, lung, prostate, endometrial, and cervical cancer. (others include bladder, rectal, head and neck, brain metastases, glioma, esophageal, sarcoma, anal, skin, and palliative)

You’ll find more information on these cancers and their treatments here.