The University of Rochester Medical Center offers the widest range of radiation oncology treatments available in upstate New York. Here is a brief introduction to some of the most common treatments that are available here.
CT Simulator and Treatment Planning System with Image Fusion Capability
Individualized patient treatment plans begin with a simulation session, where a patient is placed into an appropriate position for treatment, and multiple CT images are acquired. The process is followed by a planning session when the customized radiation dose and physical design are made through high-end computer workstations by dosimetrists. During this process, other images (MRI, PET/CT, etc.) can be fused with our planning CT scans to precisely target the tumors and to avoid critical normal structures. When the final plan is approved by the radiation oncologists, it is transferred to the designated treatment machines for the delivery of radiation treatments.
In many cases, the advanced radiation oncology treatments are provided in combination with surgery or chemotherapy. This is for brain tumors, lung cancer, gastrointestinal cancers, lymphomas, pediatric cancers, hepatobiliary cancers, breast cancer, head and neck tumors, prostate cancer, and other genitourinary cancers.
A precise, single fraction of high-dose radiation is used to treat brain and spinal lesions. URMC has the greatest experience in the region in stereotactic radiosurgery and is considered a national leader in this technology. This is for brain and spinal lesions.
A CT scanner is used to create a 3-D image of the tumor. Radiation is then sculpted and precisely directed, helping avoid exposing healthy tissue to radiation. This is ideal for radiation dose-painting, head and neck tumors, radiation retreatment, and treatment of oligometastasis of cancers.
Stereotactic Body Radiation
High doses of radiation are delivered in a very precise fashion to a tumor in the body. Treatments are completed over the course of about a week. URMC leads the upstate region in stereotactic body radiation. This is for tumors or oligometastasis within the body such as lung, liver, and other parts excluding brain and spine.
Brachytherapy is a type of internal therapy. Radioactive “seeds” are implanted either in or near the tumor to kill cancer cells. This is for prostate cancer, gynecological cancers, breast cancer, and sometimes for sarcomas.
A form of internal radiation, or brachytherapy, Theraspheres are used to treat liver cancer. The Therasphere beads are implanted in the liver during a minimally invasive procedure. The radiation from the beads then works to kill the cancer cells. This is for liver cancer, bile duct cancer, and other cancer metastasis to the liver.
Three-Dimensional Conformal Radiation Therapy
Through the use of computers and sophisticated imaging and positioning systems, conformal radiation therapy lets us “conform” the radiation beam to the size and shape of a tumor for exceptional precision. Radiation beams are then precisely shaped and directed at the tumor from various angles. This process directs more radiation at the tumor while minimizing exposure of normal cells.
Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)
An advanced form of three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy, IMRT allows us to vary the intensity of individual radiation beams. IMRT delivers more intense radiation to cancer cells while providing greater protection to normal cells.
Total Body Radiation
Total body irradiation helps prepare a person’s body for a bone marrow transplant. The whole body receives radiation in order to suppress the immune system. As a result, the transplant is less likely to be rejected by the body.
Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)
Some organs, such as the prostate, can shift during the course of treatment. With IGRT, we are able to use sound waves, cone-beam CT and KV-xray to create an image of the organ right at the time of treatment for greater accuracy in the delivery of radiation therapy.
Our Trilogy System uses a cone-beam CT to create a detailed image of the tumor. We can then utilize the ideal therapy—including 3D CRT, IMRT, and IGRT—and the ideal dose rate for treatments that are shorter, more comfortable and highly effective. Trilogy can be used for stereotactic body irradiation as well as for 4D radiation treatment with respiratory gating for the treatment of chest tumors.
Novalis is our treatment platform for stereotactic brain radiosurgery and stereotactic body radiosurgery. It lets us precisely focus radiation on the tumor, so surrounding tissue receives little or no radiation. Treatments are typically completed in one to five sessions.
Areas of Particular Expertise
The Department of Radiation Oncology has particular expertise in the following areas:
Total body irradiation
High dose rate brachytherapy
Low dose rate brachytherapy
Novalis Shaped Beam Stereotactic radiosurgery
Prostate seed implants
Image-Guided External beam radiation treatment
Conformal radiation therapy
Intensity modulated radiation therapy
Image-guided radiation treatment on Trilogy and Novalis
Prophylactic hip irradiation
Stereotactic body radiation therapy
Liver lesion radiation
Radiation treatment for oligometastasis
Accelerated partial breast radiotherapy using MammoSite or external beam
All images used courtesy of Varian Medical Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.