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Radiation Oncology

Radiation oncology (also called radiation therapy) is one of the most common treatments for many types of cancer. It uses high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells. It’s a very targeted therapy, aimed specifically at a tumor or cancer cells – as opposed to chemotherapy, which uses medicine to treat your whole body.

Radiation may be used alone or in combination with another treatment like chemotherapy. It may be used to shrink a tumor prior to another treatment (like surgery) or after another treatment to stop the growth of any remaining cancer cells. Radiation is also a common therapy for relieving symptoms of advanced cancer.

There are several different methods of delivering radiation treatments to cancer patients. It can come from a machine outside the body that sends high-energy beams to your tumor, or from radioactive material placed inside the body. The type of therapy prescribed by your radiation oncologist will depend on a number of factors such as the type, size and location of your cancer, as well as your general health and medical history.

At Vidant Health, we deliver radiation treatment in a comfortable environment for patients and their families. Our therapy centers are dedicated to providing individualized, compassionate care using today’s most advanced technology. Our teams include fully licensed radiation therapists, medical physicists, dosimetrists and support staff.

Types of radiation therapy provided at Vidant Health locations include the following:

External Beam Radiation Therapy

  • Linear accelerator (LINAC) machine – uses electricity to create high-energy radiation
  • Three-Dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT) – uses sophisticated computer software and advanced treatment machines to deliver radiation to precisely targeted areas
  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) – focuses beams of varying intensities on the tumor from different angles, reducing the damage to nearby healthy tissue. This treatment is well-suited for some patients with prostate cancer, head and neck cancer and certain types of brain tumors.
  • Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) – uses repeated imaging scans during treatment to make sure that the radiation is always “locked on” the target area.
  • Varian TrueBeam™ – the most advanced in image-guided and gated radiotherapy that delivers powerful cancer treatments with pinpoint accuracy, even for highly complex cancers located anywhere in the body. The TrueBeam machine rotates 360 degrees around the body using a 6 degree of freedom table to deliver high-powered radiation therapy from virtually any angle. Its built-in imaging system tracks the position of the patient’s body and even internal movements while breathing so that treatment is only delivered when the tumor is within the beam’s target window – protecting nearby healthy tissue and organs from unnecessary radiation. Most treatments can be completed in 2 to 3 minutes compared to the 10-30 minutes required by other linear accelerators. TrueBeam offers greater treatment accuracy and increased comfort in less time, so patients can complete their therapy sessions with less interruption to their daily life.
  • Gamma Knife® – the most advanced form of stereotactic radiosurgery, this non-invasive technique offers hope for patients with brain lesions that were once considered inoperable. It reduces pain, scarring and recovery time associated with conventional open-brain surgery. Gamma Knife can be used on a larger treatment area, including the upper spine, so we are able to treat a greater number of patients and conditions. We are proud to offer the Leksell Perfexion™ machine – the latest Gamma Knife tool – at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville. We are one of only two hospitals in North Carolina providing this treatment.
  • CyberKnife® – a form of non-invasive stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), which delivers radiation in fewer sessions with higher doses than some other treatments. There is no cutting with CyberKnife; it is a robotic radiosurgery that treats tumors that are complex in nature or located in hard-to-reach parts of the body. CyberKnife treatment is particularly helpful for tumors of the prostate, lung, spine, liver, pancreas and kidney. Vidant Medical Center (Greenville) is the only medical center in North Carolina offering both Gamma Knife and CyberKnife treatment options.
  • Calypso® 4G Localization System™ – state-of-the-art imaging system that uses implantable or Surface Beacon® Transponders to track real-time movement of tumors during radiation therapy. This allows the cancer to be targeted more accurately and can help avoid irradiating other nearby organs and reduce unwanted side effects.

Internal Radiation Therapy

  • Brachytherapy – radiation that is delivered from sources placed inside the body using needles or catheters. As the material decays naturally, it gives off radiation that damages or destroys nearby cancer cells. Brachytherapy can deliver higher doses of radiation to some cancers than externally delivered treatments while protecting normal tissue.
  • Prostate seed implants – radioactive seeds the size of rice grains are placed directly into the prostate gland and removed once treatment is completed.
  • CONTURA® Multi-Lumen Balloon (MLB) Catheter — delivers High Dose-Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy to the breast after surgery to remove the primary tumor, using a special vacuum feature that gently pulls breast tissue into contact with the balloon surface. This improves radiation delivery to the surgery area and reduces unpleasant side effects.
  • MammoSite® Radiation Therapy System for Accelerated Partial Breast Irradiation (APBI) — uses a balloon catheter to deliver HDR Brachytherapy through tiny pellets to treat breast cancer after a lumpectomy. Because the radiation is delivered from inside the breast cavity, you can receive a higher daily dose and complete your treatment quickly.
  • SAVI® Breast Brachytherapy for Accelerated Partial Breast Irradiation (APBI) — uses a catheter to guide delivery of HDR Brachytherapy to the breast after lumpectomy surgery, much like MammoSite. The SAVI catheter expands like a tiny umbrella to fit snugly into the tumor cavity.
  • Accelerated Partial Breast Irradiation (APBI) — a post-surgical radiation treatment for patients with early stage breast cancer. APBI effectively destroys remaining cancer cells and helps prevent a recurrence with high precision radiation delivery, enabling maximum dosage with minimum risk of side effects.

Always close to home.

Radiation therapy is available at these Vidant Health locations:

  • Vidant Medical Center/Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center
  • Vidant Radiation Oncology
  • Vidant Edgecombe Hospital
  • Vidant Beaufort Hospital/Marion L. Shepard
  • Vidant Chowan Hospital
  • Vidant Roanoke-Chowan Hospital
  • Onslow Radiation Oncology
  • The Outer Banks Hospital

Our progressive treatment options are accompanied by rigorous clinical and safety practices. Patients can rest assured that we meet or exceed standards established by the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) and the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM).