Radiation Oncology

Radiation Oncology at St. Luke's

External Beam Radiation Therapy

External beam radiation therapy (EBRT), also known as whole breast irradiation, is considered the gold standard in radiotherapy for patients with breast cancer. EBRT delivers a beam of high-energy X-rays to the tumor site to destroy cancer cells while sparing surrounding normal tissues. EBRT is administered daily for five to seven weeks.


RapidArcTM Radiotherapy

Advanced RapidArcTM Radiotherapy is an extremely fast, highly precise technology capable of treating more difficult tumors with intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT). With RapidArc, beams can be delivered at any angle, so the dose is conformed more closely to the size, shape and location of the tumor while sparing surrounding healthy tissue.

RapidArc is capable of providing a full-circle high-dose deposit in a single rotation. This makes treatment with RapidArc up to eight times faster than other forms of radiation therapy, maximizing patient comfort. Treatments have included tumors of the pancreas, head and neck and prostate, as well as spine metastases.

Limiting treatment time can be especially important for patients who are elderly or physically compromised. Also, since treatment times are dramatically shorter, the likelihood of tumor drift due to bodily motion is minimized. This allows for a more efficient and precise treatment.


Linear Accelerators

St. Luke's is equipped with two sophisticated linear accelerators for radiation therapy treatments. These linear accelerators offer customized treatments that don’t harm surrounding healthy tissue and limit side effects.


Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS)

St. Luke's was the first hospital in the region to offer the Trilogy™ radiation therapy system to treat brain tumors and tumors of the lung and spine. The Trilogy system is ideal for both conventional and stereotactic methods to treating cancer, including stereotactic radiosurgery, or SRS. SRS is considered the most precise method of giving a dose of radiation to an area inside the body. It is so advanced that it allows for the treatment of tumors that may have been considered inoperable.

For more information about Radiation Oncology, please call 866-STLUKES (785-8537) toll free.


Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) with Multileaf Collimation

Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) uses computer images to deliver radiation to tumors in patients with prostate cancer and those with cancers of the head and neck. IMRT delivers radiation that is more focused than is possible with usual means of radiotherapy.

The multileaf collimator shapes the radiation so that it matches the 3-D shape of the tumor developed by the IMRT plan.


Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)

St. Luke's was the first hospital in Pennsylvania to offer the Dynamic Targeting™ image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) system for tracking tumors and positioning patients. This technology treats patients with cancers of the:

  • Prostate
  • Head and neck
  • Spine
  • Abdomen
  • Pelvis areas

With intensity modulated radiation therapy, the radiation beam matches the shape of the tumor. By adding IGRT, specialists can line up the beam perfectly with the target during daily treatments. This means that:

  • Higher doses of radiation are delivered to the tumor.
  • Less nearby healthy tissue is harmed.

Brachytherapy

During brachytherapy, surgeons place radioactive material into a body cavity or tumor. Since the radiation penetrates short distances, the surrounding healthy tissue is not harmed. Mainly used for gynecological tumors, brachytherapy also is used to treat:

  • Tumors of the head and neck
  • Esophageal tumors
  • Endobronchial tumors
  • Breast tumors

The procedure usually is performed on an outpatient basis.


Partial Breast Irradiation

With partial breast irradiation, surgeons:

  • Remove a breast tumor.
  • Place a balloon into the breast.
  • Deliver high-dose radiation into the area of a patient's breast where they removed the tumor.

This cuts the length of radiation therapy usually needed from seven weeks to just one week. The procedure is appropriate for select breast cancer patients.


CT Simulation

CT simulation gives physicians the best way of seeing a tumor to plan treatment. CT simulation is more accurate than regular simulation.

St. Luke's CT simulator:

  • Identifies both cancer and the normal tissue around the cancer that physicians need to spare from radiation.
  • Gives physicians the ability to combine other scan information to CT simulation. This gives them extra information to better identify a tumor and provide the best radiation treatment.

Radioimmunotherapy

This is a promising new area of cancer treatment that combines the targeting power of antibodies with the therapeutic ability of targeted radiation.

Bexxar and Zevalin, two radioimmunotherapy treatments for follicular, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, are offered through St. Luke's Nuclear Medicine Department. Both therapies have shown an impressive rate of complete and durable remissions in patients who had relapsed following, or failed to respond to, both chemotherapy and Rituximab therapy. Bexxar and Zevalin are dual-action treatments that pair the tumor-targeting ability of a cancer-killing antibody with the therapeutic potential of radiation in patient-specific dosing.

St. Luke's was the first hospital in Pennsylvania to offer Bexxar as an FDA-approved, non-clinical trial treatment. Bexxar and Zevalin (the first FDA-approved radioimmunotherapy antibody) are administered in a single, short course of therapy. The treatments initiate an immune response against the cancer and deliver a dose of radiation directly to the tumor cells.

For more information about Radiation Oncology, please call 866-STLUKES (785-8537) toll free.