Radiation therapy typically is coupled with lumpectomy to help facilitate breast conservation. We have traditionally treated the whole breast over the course of 5 to 6 weeks, however there are various shorter treatment courses which may be appropriate for you. Radiation is delivered as an outpatient and can be delivered during a 15 to 30 minute break during your day.
We are now able to offer a convenient 1 week course of radiation known as “APBI” or accelerated partial breast irradiation which uses a special balloon or catheter to facilitate treatment with the use of “HDR” or high dose rate brachytherapy.
In stage III disease, chemotherapy and radiation are typically used in various formats. When we have to target lymph nodal regions, radiation must be delivered more slowly, usually over 5 to 7 weeks, sometimes in a concurrent or sequential fashion with chemotherapy. PPMH Cancer Center has capabilities of using Immunotherapy in patients who have more advanced disease.
Physicians at ROA have published several articles highlighting results obtained at PPMH in the management of H&N cancer patients, such as cancers of the oropharynx, larynx, and nasopharynx. Sometimes, surgery up front is recommended- this is something that would be discussed with you by your managing physician.
Radiation may also be utilized in management of pancreatic cancers, and in special scenarios gastric cancer and colon cancer.
Brachytherapy (implantation of radioactive sources) is an effective and advantageous way to boost cancers to high doses while reducing side effects. In 2016, we transitioned almost exclusively from inpatient delivery of “LDR or low dose rate” implants to outpatient delivery of “HDR or high dose rate” implants. Rather than admitting patients to the hospital for several days, we are able to more conveniently deliver the dose as an outpatient so that you may go home and spend time with your loved ones between treatments. We use the Elekta flexitron for delivery of HDR technology.
Radiation plays a role in consolidation or in definitive management in patients with certain hematologic diagnosis such as low grade lymphoma (Follicular or MALT) and in solitary plasmacytoma.
Radiation is known to control 90% of skin cancers treated, and is preferred in cancers of the face, when surgery may be too risky or leave the patient with an unpleasant defect or scar.