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Radiation Oncology

Radiation Oncology at South Suburban Cancer Center

What is Radiation Oncology?
Radiation oncology is the field of medicine that uses ionizing radiation to treat cancer.  Radiation is delivered directly to the tumor externally and / or internally while limiting the exposure to surrounding healthy tissue.

When treating cancer with radiation, sophisticated dose calculations are made in order to contour the shape and intensity of the radiation beam or the internal dose precisely to the targeted area.

The Treatment Process
At Advocate South Suburban Hospital,board-certified radiation oncologists and highly trained staff offer a variety of radiation treatments and services to treat many cancers. The oncologists are responsible in guiding the patient through their treatment including oversight of their post-treatment care. Each member of the care team ensures the needs of every patient are met and help to ensure the best possible outcome.

Initial Consultation
During the initial consultation, the patient is interviewed and examined by the radiation oncologist who uses the patient's health history to understand the patient's medical status. The oncologist considers the information in the history, the patient diagnosis and information from other specialists, to determine the best course of treatment. The oncologist discusses treatment options and process with the patient and their family while answering any questions they may have.
 
Treatment Plan
Once it is determined that radiation therapy is the best way to treat the cancer, treatment planning begins. The treatment is developed specifically for each patient so the post treatment results are optimal. It also helps to guide the other specialists at the center who manage and deliver the prescribed treatment. This custom-made plan is influenced by the patients's overall health, type and stage of cancer and is comprised of all the measurements and calculations necessary for their entire treatment. Some patients may be required to undergo a special CT or PET scan called a "simulation".

The computer generated imagery and information collected from this simulation allows the physician and others to verify treatment accuracy.
 
Treatment
When the planning is complete, the patient will be treated with one or more radiotherapy machines that deliver the radiation directly to the tumor site. These technologies generate high energy x-rays or electrons that destroy tumor cells.  Other systems are designed to deliver radiation through the use of isotopes and catheters. Radiation therapists, who are certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), administer the daily treatment under the supervision of the radiation oncologist. They record and document treatment progress. Most radiation treatments are given five times a week, Monday through Friday.

Follow-up Care
Our staff provides information about self-care and management of side effects that may arise. Most people undergoing radiation treatment are able to continue with their normal activities while some may need to adjust their level of activity temporarily during treatment as recommended. In addition, we provide information for cancer related support groups including local, community based groups and national organizations such as the American Cancer Society which provides general cancer and statistical information.

Our Advanced Technology for Treating Cancer
We offer the latest technologies for radiation treatment that are typically found at larger medical institutions. These give the oncologist more options in treating and target the cancer.  Depending on the type of cancer and stage, one or more methods may be used to maximize tumor reduction and minimize damage to normal healthy tissues. Our treatments include:

  • 3D Conformal Radiation Therapy
  • Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)
  • Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)
  • CT Scanning & Simulation
  • Seed Implants (Low Dose Rate Brachytherapy)
  • High Dose Rate Brachytherapy (HDR)
  • Accelerated Partial-breast Irradiation (APBI)

Learn more about these and other radiation technologies available


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