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Radiation Oncology - About Radiation Therapy

New technologies offer continual improvement in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other diseases. At the Sibley Cancer Center, we are able to help patients with cancer benefit from these innovations and breakthroughs. Sibley is committed to serving Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia residents and to investing in new technologies and procedures as they are proven to be medically effective. While there are many variations, there are four basic radiation therapy methods. We offer the most sophisticated version of each.
 

Conventional Radiation Therapy

This is still the best choice for many tumors that can be easily localized and are not adjacent to critical tissues. The Sibley Cancer Center has state-of-the-art equipment for conventional radiation therapy equipment so efficient it can reduce daily treatment time by as much as two-thirds.
 

Three-Dimensional Conformal Radiation Therapy

Technological advances led to this major leap in using radiation to treat cancer.
 
  • A digital simulator seamlessly integrates with treatment machines and planning computers to implement accurate and complex treatments.
  • Computerized planning software enables physicians to "see" the tumor and normal tissues as three-dimensional images from CT and/or MRI scans and to refine their aim by choosing and shaping beams to avoid healthy tissue.
  • A linear accelerator with finger-like lead blocks in the treatment head (multi-leaf collimators) shapes radiation beams to conform to the tumor according to the computer-generated plan. Sibley was one of the first hospitals in the area to offer 3-D radiation therapy. It is still the first-choice treatment for many cancers usually those which cannot be felt or seen.
 

Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)

Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy is a "breakthrough" particularly for patients with tumors which are close to critical tissues. IMRT is made possible by recent advances in technology and software.
 
IMRT offers the tightest dose distribution by relying on computer-generated algorithms. It is the treatment of choice for many prostate and lung cancers, unusual cancers of the head and neck, and some breast and gastrointestinal tumors. The Sibley Cancer Center was among the first in the area to offer it. IMRT is a result of tremendous advances in linear acceleration technology and a revolutionary treatment planning system.
 
The technology element is the multi-leaf collimator, positioned at the head of the treatment machine, which can shape the radiation beam into patterns that are complex and highly individualized. Each of the collimator's multiple apertures can be opened or closed individually to enable each radiation beam to be focused with exquisite precision.
 
IMRT is primarily a feat of sophisticated software engineering. Working with a virtual model of the body, the software defines the ideal orientation and intensity of individual dose "packets." These packets summed together form a highly precise tumor coverage.
 

Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)

IGRT is the process of frequent two and three-dimensional imaging, during a course of radiation treatment, used to direct radiation therapy utilizing the imaging coordinates of the actual radiation treatment plan.[1] The patient is localized in the treatment room in the same position as planned from the reference imaging(initial) dataset.
 

Brachytherapy For Treatment Of Prostate Cancer

Brachytherapy use Radioactive "seeds" that are strategically implanted within the body in a carefully mapped pattern. It is most commonly used for treating cancers of the prostate, cervix, lung, bile duct, breast and eye. Sibley has a dedicated, shielded brachytherapy suite and offers high-dose rate brachytherapy, known as HDR brachytherapy as well.
 
  • Prostate Seed Implants
  • High Dose Rate Brachytherapy
  • Eye Plaque Brachytherapy
 
 
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