A physician who has special training in diagnosing and treating cancer. Some oncologists specialize in a particular type of cancer treatment, such as treating cancer with radiation.
A physician who has special training in diagnosing and treating cancer. Some oncologists specialize in a particular type of cancer treatment. For example, a radiation oncologist specializes in treating cancer with radiation.
The use of high-energy radiation from X-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, protons and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.
The use of high-energy radiation from x-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, protons and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation may come from a machine outside the body (external-beam radiation therapy), or it may come from radioactive material placed in the body near cancer cells (internal radiation therapy or brachytherapy). Systemic radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance, such as a radiolabeled monoclonal antibody, that travels in the blood to tissues throughout the body.
A problem that occurs when treatment affects healthy tissues or organs. Some side effects of cancer treatment are nausea, vomiting, fatigue, pain, decreased blood cell counts, hair loss and mouth sores.
A detailed plan with information about a patient’s disease, the goal of treatment, the treatment options for the disease and the possible side effects and expected length of treatment.
A detailed plan with information about a patient’s disease, the goal of treatment, the treatment options for the disease and the possible side effects and expected length of treatment. A treatment plan may also include information about how much the treatment is likely to cost and about regular follow-up care after treatment ends.
Proton therapy is a helpful treatment option in cases where getting the smallest amount of radiation exposure is especially important, such as when:
- The tumor is close to critical organs
- The patient is trying to save their fertility so they can have children
- A patient has had radiation before
- The disease is recurrent, and radiation is needed several times over many years
Since proton therapy is only appropriate for specific subtypes of sarcoma, your care team will let you know if it is an option for your treatment plan.
Conventional External-Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT)
Conventional EBRT uses a machine called a linear accelerator to send beams of high-energy X-rays (photons) at the cancer. Usually, EBRT is given five days a week (Monday through Friday) for several weeks. The procedure doesn’t hurt, and each treatment takes only a few minutes.
There are several forms of EBRT. Your radiation oncologist will decide the form that’s right for your tumors, set the dosage and schedule for your treatments and help you manage any side effects.
Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT)
IORT is a fast, effective and exact form of radiation that is used during surgery to treat tumors. It may be used to treat tumors that came into contact with the tumor during surgery.
IORT takes just a few minutes and uses only a fraction of the total radiation given over a traditional multi-week course of EBRT. UWMC is the only hospital in our five-state region — Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho — to offer this treatment.
Fast Neutron Therapy
Neutron therapy attacks cancer cells with neutrons. There are two advantages to using neutrons instead of photons or electrons:
- Neutron beams are much more powerful. They deposit about 20 to 100 times more energy into the target tissue than photons or electrons can.
- Neutron beams are more likely to damage both strands of a cancer cell’s DNA, rather than only one strand. This makes it harder for the cells to repair themselves and survive.
UW Medicine is the only place in the U.S. to offer neutron therapy, and the doctors here are internationally known as experts in neutron therapy. We sometimes use neutron therapy to treat sarcomas when we believe this may work better than conventional forms of radiation therapy.