Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates: What You Need to Know. LEARN MORE

Services

Radiation Oncology

Radiation Treatment & Therapy in Anderson, SC

At AnMed Health Cancer Center, we understand the weight of a cancer diagnosis. We know how a single CT scan or lab result can change your world, leaving you feeling helpless and lost. That is why our skilled and compassionate medical providers are dedicated to empowering cancer patients with individualized cancer treatment plans.

After your diagnosis, your cancer treatment team will chart a path to recovery. This journey may involve a variety of interventions, including (but not limited to) radiation therapy. Radiation therapy is a localized therapy used to destroy cancer cells and shrink malignant tumors. Radiation therapy sessions are painless, brief (about 15 minutes) and highly effective.

To learn more about our radiation oncology treatment options, contact AnMed Health online or call us at 864-512-4600.

What Is Radiation Therapy?

At its simplest, radiation is energy. This energy travels in waves or high-speed particles and, in low doses, is relatively benign. Each day, we are exposed to background radiation generated by the solar system, electrical power lines, microwaves, and other sources.

In high doses, however, radiation can slow tissue growth and kill cells. In the late 19th-century, scientists realized they could harness this power to destroy cancer cells. Today, this practice is known as radiation therapy and is the most common cancer treatment. In fact, more than half of cancer patients receive some form of radiotherapy.

During treatment, radiation therapists under the direction of the Radiation Oncologists use machines to deliver radiation to cancer cells and tumors. Though radiation does not affect cancer cells instantly, consistent exposure during treatment will damage the cells’ DNA. This will kill cancer cells and prevent them from metastasizing, thereby lowering the risk that the cancer will come back or spread to other areas of the body.

When Is Radiation Therapy Used?

Radiation therapy is used to treat many types of cancer. Though some cancer patients only receive radiation, most receive radiotherapy in conjunction with other treatments like chemotherapy and surgery. Radiotherapy may also be used to control pain and other symptoms associated with terminal cancers. This is called palliative radiation therapy.

Since radiation is a local treatment (which means it only affects the part of the body being treated), doctors often recommend radiation therapy if the cancer is confined to specific areas of the body. If the cancer has progressed or metastasized, radiation therapy may be coupled with chemotherapy, a treatment that affects the entire body. Radiotherapy may also be used before surgery to shrink a tumor or after surgery to kill any remaining cells.

Types of Radiation Therapy

At AnMed Health, our radiation oncologists exclusively use Varian equipment, one of the most respected brands of radiation equipment. Varian’s TrueBeam™ system, a device that increases the efficacy of high-precision radiotherapy and radiosurgery treatments, is just one example of the advanced technologies used.

Other technologies and techniques include:

Linear Accelerator (LINAC)

Commonly referred to as LINAC, a linear accelerator delivers external beam radiation therapy by targeting cancer tumors with extreme accuracy. This helps radiation oncologists treat cancers of the brain, spine, head and neck, breast, lung, esophagus, stomach, prostate, bladder and bones.

Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)

IMRT, or intensity-modulated radiation therapy, is a type of external beam radiation therapy. During IMRT, doctors deliver high-dose radiation to tumors with great accuracy while minimizing radiation to healthy tissues.

Computed Tomography Scan (CT Scan)

A computed tomography scan, or CT scan, generates cross-sectional images of bone and soft tissues that will be used to create your treatment plan. The Radiation Oncology department at AnMed Health is equipped with a light-speed wide-bore CT scanner.

Electron Beam Therapy (EBT)

Electron beam therapy, or EBT, is a type of external beam radiotherapy in which electrons are directed to a tumor site. This advanced, non-surgical treatment option is most often used for patients with skin cancer. During EBT, a thin electron beam is used to target cancer cells while sparing healthy tissues.

Prostate Brachytherapy

Prostate brachytherapy is a type of radiation therapy used to treat early-stage prostate cancer. During this procedure, radioactive seeds are implanted in the prostate gland to kill the cancer cells.

High Dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy

During high dose rate brachytherapy, or HDR brachytherapy, radiation is inserted into a body cavity or body tissue for a short period of time (up to 20 minutes). The radiation source is then removed. This treatment option is available for lung and gynecologic patients.

Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS)

Also referred to as SRS, stereotactic radiosurgery uses high doses of radiation to treat brain tumors. An MRI is performed to localize the treatment area.  SRS treatment is delivered in one treatment.

Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT)

Stereotactic body radiation therapy, or SBRT, is much like SRS in that it uses high doses of radiation to treat tumors. However, whereas SRS is restricted to the brain, SBRT can treat tumors in the lungs, spine, liver, neck, and other soft tissues. These treatments are typically delivered in one to five visits.

When treating left sided breast cancer, a technique called DIBH (deep inspiration breath hold) can be used. This technique limits the amount of radiation delivered to the heart.

Cancers Treated With Radiation Therapy

At AnMed Health, our radiation oncologists employ radiation therapy to effectively treat all cancer types. Learn more about the use of radiation therapy in treating the following cancers:

Radiation Therapy Side Effects

Radiation therapy works by killing or slowing the growth of cancer cells. Unfortunately, however, it can also affect a body’s healthy tissues. This damage often leads to side effects such as fatigue and skin changes like dryness, itching, blistering, and peeling.

Of course, side effects will vary depending on the area being treated. Radiation therapy aimed at a patient’s head or neck, for example, may cause dry mouth and difficulty swallowing. Comparatively, radiation therapy aimed at a patient’s abdomen may result in diarrhea. A radiation oncologist will discuss these potential side effects before beginning your treatment.

What to Expect From Radiation Treatment

Before beginning radiation treatment, you will meet with a radiation oncologist. During this initial consultation, he or she will perform a medical examination and review prior test results to determine if radiation therapy is appropriate for you. If the doctor decides to move forward with this treatment plan, they will then schedule something called a simulation.

A simulation is like a practice run without the actual radiation. The Radiation Therapist under the supervision of the Radiation Oncologist will place you on the CT machine and mark your skin with temporary paint or small permanent tattoos. These visual indicators will be used to position you for your treatment. Since precision is critical, you may also be fitted for an immobilization device like a head mask or mold. These devices ensure that your body is in the same position during each treatment.

What happens during your radiation treatment depends on the type of radiation therapy you are receiving. In external beam radiation therapy, a machine delivers the radiation from outside your body. The sessions are typically 15 minutes long and completely painless. Most patients have five treatment sessions per week for five to eight weeks.

Internal radiation therapy, or brachytherapy, involves placing radioactive pellets inside the body. For GYN brachytherapy, the source is in place for several minutes. For prostate seed implants, the seeds remain in the body and decay over time. The duration depends on the cancer type and location. You may be placed under general anesthesia during the implantation process.

Radiation Oncology at AnMed Health

As the leading provider of oncology care in upstate South Carolina and northeast Georgia, AnMed Health believes each cancer patient deserves an individualized and compassionate treatment plan. That is why we offer the latest in high-precision radiotherapy and radiosurgery treatments.

Radiation Oncology is located in the AnMed Health Cancer Center at our North Campus.

Phone:

864-512-4600

Hours:

Monday–Friday, 8AM–5PM

Address:

2000 East Greenville Street
Anderson, SC 29621

Radiation Oncology FAQs

Is radiation therapy dangerous?

Like any medical treatment, there are risks associated with radiation therapy. Most significantly, radiation treatment can increase an individual’s chances of later developing a second cancer. However, in most situations, the benefits of receiving radiation therapy outweigh the risks.

Does radiation therapy hurt?

No – Radiation therapy is a painless form of cancer treatment. Treatment sessions typically last 15 minutes and are much like receiving an X-ray or CT scan. After treatment, some patients experience mild side effects like fatigue and nausea, while others experience no side effects.

Is radiation therapy effective?

Radiation therapy is highly effective. In fact, 40% of all cancer cures include radiotherapy as part of the treatment plan. However, the efficacy of radiation therapy depends on the cancer type and stage. Additionally, radiation therapy is often more effective when partnered with other cancer treatments like chemotherapy.

How long do I need to have radiation therapy?

The duration of your radiation treatment plan depends on your cancer type and progression. Typically, however, patients receive radiation therapy five days a week for five to eight weeks.