Radiation Oncology is a therapy using radiation to kill or control cancer cells in the body. Radiation works by damaging the DNA of malignant cells, leading to cell death. Radiation therapy is offered as a part of recommended cancer therapy for most diagnoses, depending on the stage and the location of the lesion in the body. Radiation therapy may also be recommended for a number of non-cancer conditions, including trigeminal neuralgia, acoustic neuroma, prevention of keloid scars, and as a component of orthopedic procedures.
One concern for patients undergoing radiation therapy is the side effects from exposure to radiation. Specialized techniques have been developed to shape the radiation dose delivered and to protect normal healthy tissues, even if close to the cancer lesion.
OSF Saint Francis Medical Center is pleased to offer the most comprehensive set of radiation therapy options and techniques, to patients in the downstate Illinois. Advanced treatment options may offer opportunities to spare patients from more severe side effects and have improved quality of life after their cancer.
We encourage patients choosing a radiation oncology provider to consider the experience and technical sophistication. Our providers and staff are committed to offer treatments to patients, that can provide the best outcomes from therapy with the lowest side effects. In support of this, the Radiation Oncology department at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center has been the first to offer a number of advanced services in the downstate Illinois region.
- 1990 - First High Dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy interstitial treatment in downstate Illinois
- 1991 – First Radiosurgery treatment in downstate Illinois
- 2001 – First Gamma Knife treatment in downstate Illinois
- 2005 – Trilogy Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy first offered
- 2008 – First Gamma Knife Perfexion treatment in downstate Illinois
- 2013 – First treatment with High-Definition Multi-Leaf Collimator in downstate Illinois
Depending on your disease and specific circumstance, patients may be offered one of the therapeutic choices below. All choices are not available or appropriate for every type of cancer.
External Beam Radiation Therapy
External Beam Radiation Therapy or EBRT is common for the treatment of cancers of the Breast and Lung, but may be offered for any cancer patient. EBRT is delivered using a linear accelerator, which treats the lesion from a number of angles around to the body to maximize the effective treatment dose while minimizing side effects. EBRT is the most commonly prescribed radiation therapy treatment for cancer patients across the United States.
Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy
Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy or IMRT is a high precision technique to allow the radiation therapy dose to be better shaped to conform to the target volume, while sparing normal healthy tissue. IMRT is normally treated using a Linear Accelerator, with tiny articulating jaws called multi-leaf collimators to shape the dose delivered to a cancer, while blocking dose that would otherwise affect healthy tissue.
RapidArc therapy is a new technique which allows radiation therapy to be delivered via a rotating gantry across 360° (or more) of arc, while utilizing an IMRT technique to shape dose. RapidArc therapy is commonly offered to patients with prostate and head & neck cancers.
Image Guided Radiation Therapy
Also known as IGRT, image guidance refers to the use of x-ray, CT, or other techniques to position and track a patient before radiation is delivered. All Linear Accelerators at Saint Francis Medical Center are outfitted with multiple options for sophisticated image guidance. IGRT may be used as a part of EBRT, IMRT, and RapidArc therapies.
A new development Vision RT, is an optical surface monitoring system which uses three 3D cameras to track the surface body contour of a patient and confirm they are confirm they are properly positioned for safe radiation treatment. Vision RT allows appropriate patients to be spared the additional radiation dose from x-ray or CT imaging during treatment. Vision RT is installed on all Linear Accelerators across the SFMC Radiation Oncology department.
Stereotactic Radiation/Stereotactic Radiosurgery
Stereotactic Radiation can be separated into several types of therapy that are similar with respect to their delivery technique:
Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS) is the treatment of targets in the brain or spine with single large dose of radiation, in a single day. Treatment of a target in the brain or spine over 2-5 days of treatment is still radiosurgery, but is not considered SRS.
Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) is the treatment of all other sites of disease with between 1-5 fractions of high doses of radiation.
Stereotactic Radiation utilizes highly precise and highly focused radiation fields to a specifically defined target in the body with extreme accuracy. By definition, it delivers a high radiation dose over 1-5 days, or fractions of radiation therapy. Some cancers respond better to a stereotactic prescription of high dose over fewer days. An additional advantage is that stereotactic technique allows treatments to be offered over a shorter number of days that other standard treatment. This type of treatment may be offered either with a Linear Accelorator, or with a specialized machine for Brain Radiosurgery, such as the Leksell Gamma Knife radiosurgery system. Stereotactic procedures require specialized equipment to be performed safely.
OSF Saint Francis Medical Center is the first in downstate Illinois to offer stereotactic radiation in 1991. It is also the first and sole facility to offer treatments with Gamma Knife Radiosurgery starting in 2001 and Linear Accelerator-based Radiosurgery using High-Definition Multi-Leaf Collimators since 2013.
Stereotactic Brain Radiation Therapies are planned with the input of neurosurgeons of Illinois Neurological Institute to help guarantee the best and safest treatments for our patients.