Radiation therapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses energy in the form of radiation to destroy or slow the growth of cancer cells. Radiation works by damaging the DNA of the cancer cells. Radiation oncologists use radiation to treat cancerous and noncancerous diseases.
At the WVU Cancer Institute, our team of radiation oncologists, nurses, therapists, dosimetrists (specialists who help develop your radiation plan), and medical physicists work together to plan and deliver the most precise, safe, and effective care for you.
The Department of Radiation Oncology is accredited by the American Society for Radiation Oncology’s Accreditation Program for Excellence. Ours is the first radiation oncology facility in West Virginia to receive a four-year accreditation.
Radiation Therapy Treats Many Different Cancers
- Radiation therapy and surgery — Oncologists often combine surgery with radiation. It can be used before, during, or after surgery to shrink the tumor or destroy any remaining cancer cells.
- Radiation therapy and medication — Radiation therapy is often given to patients receiving chemotherapy to weaken or destroy cancer cells.
We use radiation therapy to treat many different types of cancer, including:
- Head and neck
- Leukemia and lymphoma
Types of Radiation Treatment We Offer
Many factors determine what type of radiation therapy will best treat your cancer. These include the type, size, and location of the cancer, your age and general health, and whether you will have other types of cancer treatment.
A radiation oncologist may use computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, positron emission tomography (PET) scans, and ultrasound images to help with the planning of your radiation treatments.
Our radiation oncologists perform the following therapeutic procedures:
- Brachytherapy — This is a treatment approach that places radioactive material, or sources, directly into the tissue where there is cancer. We use this type of radiation to treat head, neck, breast, cervix, prostate, and eye cancer. There are different types of brachytherapy procedures.
- External beam therapy — External beam therapy typically involves daily radiation treatments for one to eight weeks. These treatments are most commonly given using a machine called a linear accelerator.
- Gamma Knife radiosurgery — This therapy is used to target tumors in the brain. It uses a computer to target the tumor location and deliver extremely accurate high-dose radiation.
- Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) — This approach allows for imaging before and during your treatment. CT scans are used to make sure your body is positioned correctly, so the radiation targets the tumor with great precision.
- High-dose-rate (HDR) remote after loading — This technique uses a device to deliver a highly radioactive source directly to a treatment site in order to administer a prescribed radiation dose.
- Intensity-modulated radiation therapy — This approach uses computer programs to deliver high-dose radiation from many angles. It helps doctors avoid nearby healthy tissue and organs while precisely radiating the tumor.
- Respiratory gating — Some tumors can move when you breathe, particularly if they are located in your lungs, abdomen, or chest. This technique accounts for these movements when delivering radiation.
- Intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) — This radiation treatment is delivered directly to a small area of the body all at once. It is commonly used during a breast biopsy procedure to radiate the biopsy cavity.
- Stereotactic radiotherapy (SRT) / stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) — This treatment uses precisely focused radiation beams to treat tumors and other problems in the brain. Therapy is often delivered in one to five treatments.
- Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) — This is a treatment similar to SRS, except it is performed on tumors outside the brain.