Radiation Therapy

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Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy X-rays to treat cancer. About half of all cancer patients will receive radiation therapy at some point in their treatment.

If you are concerned with how radiation may affect your health, Jefferson physicians have made great strides in reducing the effects of radiation on normal tissue surrounding the tumor being treated. As a result, in many cases, fatigue is the only significant side effect of radiation therapy and other side effects are limited to the area being treated.

Advanced Radiation Therapies Offered

Radiation oncologists at the Bodine Center for Radiation Therapy / Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson have developed several new cancer treatments and have helped pioneer the use of advanced radiation therapies that precisely target cancerous tumors. Radiation therapies help a significant number of our patients realize cures, while successfully slowing the progress of cancers for many others. Our state-of-the-art image-based planning and treatment systems offer a more targeted delivery of therapies. Some of the advanced radiation therapies offered at Jefferson include:

  • Brachytherapy – a procedure that involves implanting tiny radioactive seeds at the site of the tumor, which, compared with external radiation therapy, allows for a higher dose of radiation to be safely administered.
  • Conformal radiation therapy – uses computers to create a 3-D picture of the tumor so that multiple radiation beams can be shaped exactly to the contour of the treatment area, sparing normal tissue.
  • External radiation therapy – a high-energy beam is directed at the tumor site for a few minutes during each treatment over a period of weeks.
  • Hyperthermia – a form of thermal therapy that utilizes moderate temperature elevation to enhance the effects of radiation and chemotherapy.
  • Intra-operative radiation therapy (IORT) – involves the delivery of a large dose of radiation directly to a tumor exposed through surgery.
  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) – delivers radiation doses that precisely fit the 3-D shape of a tumor. It also tightly regulates the intensity of the radiation to more closely target the tumors and spare surrounding tissue.
  • Radioembolization (also known as selective internal radiation therapy) – For patients with primary liver cancer or liver metastases, this localized radiation delivers a high dose of radiation to the tumor while sparing the healthy liver. This breakthrough treatment delivers radiation directly to tumors via microscopic glass bubbles filled with a radioactive material called yttrium-90. 
  • Total skin electron beam therapy (TSEBT) – a form of radiotherapy delivered to the entire skin surface. It is used when the skin lymphoma has affected many areas of your skin.
  • Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy (VMAT) – a new generation arc therapy technique that establishes new standards for treatment speed and dose conformity.

Why Choose Jefferson for Radiation Therapy in Philadelphia?

Jefferson is also home to the region's busiest radiation oncology center, which is visited by more than 2,000 cancer patients a year. Specializing in specific types of tumors and therapies, our radiation oncologists are continually improving patient outcomes by providing carefully coordinated and sequenced therapies in concert with surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation biologists and medical physicists.

TrueBeam System for Cancer Treatment

In pursuit of the highest quality care, Jefferson continues to utilize the latest advancements in radiotherapy technology such as the TrueBeam™ system.

This linear accelerator, or LINAC, is capable of delivering fast and precise 3-D image-guided radiotherapy for the treatment of cancer. Treatments focus powerful radiation on the tumor while limiting exposure to surrounding healthy tissues. We have two TrueBeam systems at the Bodine Center for Radiation Therapy and one at our Riddle, Pa. location. The TrueBeam Slim will be installed at Jefferson Hospital for Neuroscience in fall 2014.

TrueBeam is able to deliver radiation through many forms of advanced techniques including image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT), intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) and RapidArc™ radiotherapy technology. Treatments that once took 10 to 30 minutes can now be completed in less than two minutes.

The treatment LINAC rooms are also equipped with an advanced communications system. The therapist running the system remains in constant contact with you while your selection of music plays through the audio system to put you at ease.