External Radiation Therapy Options at Virginia Oncology Associates
External beam radiation is administered to patients while they lie on a table under a linear accelerator. This machine delivers radiation beams to a precise area of the body to kill cancer cells while sparing as much nearby healthy tissue as possible. There are a few different external radiation technologies radiation oncologists can choose from, depending on the location of the cancer being treated.
Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) is an advanced form of radiation treatment that allows radiation oncologists to precisely target tumor cells. It is a non-invasive therapy that uses Computed Tomography (CT) imaging to build three-dimensional images of the body, including the tumor being treated. Using CT technology, the radiation oncologist is able to deliver tightly-focused radiation beams of varying intensity to cancerous tumors without needles, tubes, or catheters.
By varying the intensity of these beams, the radiation dosage to the tumor is maximized while minimizing the amount of radiation distributed to the surrounding healthy tissues. IMRT has been shown to be particularly useful in treating prostate cancer, head and neck cancers, gastrointestinal cancers, breast cancer, and any tumor wrapping itself around critical organs or tissues.
Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) combines a new form of scanning technology with the control of IMRT to pinpoint and treat cancerous tumors with varying amounts of radiation. Using imaging modalities to precisely localize the tumor each day adds safety and accuracy. IGRT is used to treat tumors in areas of the body that are prone to movement, such as the lungs, liver, and prostate gland, as well as tumors located close to critical organs and tissues.
Three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT) uses sophisticated computers and computer-assisted tomography scans (CT or CAT scans) and/or magnetic resonance imaging scans (MR or MRI scans) to create detailed, three-dimensional representations of the tumor and surrounding organs. Your radiation oncologist can then shape the radiation beams exactly to the size and shape of your tumor. The tools used to shape the radiation beams are multileaf collimators or blocks. Because the radiation beams are precisely directed, nearby normal tissue receives less radiation exposure.
Virginia Oncology Associates has enhanced its cancer-fighting abilities with the TrueBeam™ system from Varian Medical Systems. This system’s advanced imaging and powerful treatment modes allow doctors to tailor treatments specifically to your cancer.
Faster, More Precise Radiotherapy Treatment for Cancer Patients
Our radiation oncologists use the most advanced radiation equipment, including the TrueBeam™ system. It is a faster, more precise radiotherapy treatment that minimizes side effects and reduces treatment time.
Virginia Oncology Associates doctors are using TrueBeam™ to treat patients with a variety of cancers, including head and neck, lung, breast, and prostate.
Benefits of TrueBeam™ Treatments for Cancer Patients Include:
- Faster Treatments: The TrueBeam™ system delivers radiation at a faster dose rate than traditional technologies. This speed translates to shorter treatment times for patients. Typical treatment times can be cut in half, with most taking under a half-hour.
- Comfort: Quiet operation and shorter treatment times mean less stress for the patient.
- Precision Targeting: The precision of the TrueBeam™ system is measured in increments of less than a millimeter. This precision allows physicians to protect vital organs and healthy tissue surrounding the tumor.
- Personalized Care: TrueBeam™ makes it possible to tailor a patient's treatments using a variety of methods, including respiratory gating, real-time tracking, imaging, and more.
- Visibility: The TrueBeam™ system produces 3-D images which allow doctors to target tumors precisely. It also reduces the number of X-ray doses a patient receives by 25%.
What to Expect at a Virginia Oncology Associates Radiation Therapy Appointment
Find a Radiation Oncologist at Virginia Oncology Associates
External radiation therapy is performed by radiation oncologists at Virginia Oncology Associates in Virginia Beach, Hampton, and Norfolk, Virginia. Make an appointment to consult with one of our radiation oncologists if radiation therapy is recommended as part of your cancer treatment plan.