Published on September 23, 2020

Cancer Treatment

Radiation Oncology

Radiation therapy, also called radiotherapy, is the use of radiation to safely and effectively treat cancer. The goal of radiation therapy is to treat cancer without harming surrounding organs and tissue, thus maintaining the patient's quality of life.

Radiation therapy:

  • Can be used to cure cancer, control the growth of cancer, or relieve cancer symptoms
  • Can be applied externally on an outpatient basis
  • Can be applied internally (brachytherapy), in which radiation is sealed within needles, seeds, wires or catheters and placed directly in or near the tumor

We provide a variety of radiation therapy treatments.

External Beam Radiation

  • Combines several technologies to deliver radiation in a unique spiral pattern at up to 360 degrees, able to adjust to match each patient's unique anatomy
  • Allows simple, effective adjustment to the treatment plan as the tumor changes and shrinks during treatment
  • Minimizes the risk of damaging healthy tissue and reduces the common side effects of radiation treatments
  • Provides safe treatment in highly sensitive areas, like the brain, spinal cord and areas around the heart
  • With TomoDirect, planning and treatment time is significantly reduced due to fewer treatment beams.

Radixact System Featuring Synchrony

The Radixact System is a non-invasive treatment option developed to deliver image-guided intensity-modulated (IG-IMRT) radiation therapy, an extremely precise form of radiation therapy. The system provides continuous delivery of radiation from 360 degrees around the patient, which increases the control doctors have in getting radiation where it needs to be and helps to decrease the damage to surrounding healthy tissue and organs.

The innovative new feature is the Synchrony tumor motion tracking system that can adjust for tumor motion and decrease the size of the radiation field for further precision and decreased side effects. 

Additional Resources

External Beam Radiation

  • Is most often given as a series of outpatient treatments, typically five days a week
  • Allows many patients to continue normal daily activities, such as work or school
  • Directs radiation from a machine to a patient lying on the treatment table
  • Takes only a few minutes and does not cause any physical sensation for the patient

3-D Conformal Treatment Planning

  • Is created by certified medical dosimetrists working collaboratively with physicians
  • Provides a three-dimensional reconstruction of the tumor and the surrounding healthy tissue
  • Allows custom radiation treatment for each patient
  • Allows for more precision in aiming the radiation at the tumor
  • Can be used in conjunction with PET/CT scans to provide the best care

Intensely Modulated Radiation Therapy/Volumetric Arc Therapy

  • With 3-D Conformal Treatment Planning, allows physicians to deliver higher doses of radiation to the tumor while minimizing healthy tissue damage and side effects

Accelerated Partial Breast Irradiation

  • Is given on an outpatient basis and can be completed in five days
  • Is effective in treating patients with early stage breast cancer
  • Is given after surgery and uses a small balloon catheter to deliver radiation inside the breast, where cancer is most likely to recur
  • Limits the exposure of radiation to healthy tissue, reducing the potential for side effects

At Altru we use the Contura multi-lumen system. The Contura system allows us to protect skin, rib, lung, and heart tissue more effectively.

High-Dose Rate Brachytherapy (HDR)

  • Delivers radiation in the patient at or near the tumor site
  • Can be used on almost any part of the body but is primarily used for prostate, breast, gynecologic, skin, sarcomas, and other related indications.
  • Can be used as either the sole treatment or in conjunction with external beam radiation
  • Can deliver the treatment in just a few minutes, as opposed to the 24 to 120 hours of Low-Dose Rate Brachytherapy
  • Can be applied internally, in which radiation is remotely inserted by a computerized robotic system into previously implanted catheters delivering highly focused radiation directly into the tumor and targeted regional tissues.

Selective Internal Radiation Therapy (SIRT)

  • Is a radiation oncology treatment for patients with inoperable metastatic liver cancer
  • Introduces yttrium-90 containing SIR-Spheres microspheres* into the liver via a catheter.
  • Side effects are generally fewer than with alternative treatments
  • Is administered on an outpatient basis

*SIR-Spheres microspheres irradiate the cancer cells, leading to the destruction of the tumor while the normal liver tissue remains relatively unaffected

Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) & Stereotactic Radiation Surgery (SRS)

  • This technique delivers very high doses of therapeutic radiation to a highly selective group of patients with isolated small tumors in the lung and liver.
  • This technique can decrease the treatment course from approximately 35 treatments to 1-5 treatments with similar, to potentially improved, outcomes.

At Altru we use 4D-CT scanning equipment with respiratory motion management to accurately plan for tumors that move during regular breathing.

Medical Oncology

At Altru Cancer Center, our medical oncologists provide expert care in the fields of chemotherapy, hormone therapy and biologic therapy. These treatments can be used alongside surgery and radiation therapy to combat cancer. Our medical oncology staff reviews and monitors each patient on an individual basis to provide them with a personalized and effective treatment plan.


Chemotherapy medications are administered by chemotherapy trained nurses under the direction of the Medical Oncologists.

Chemotherapy medication:

  • Is usually provided on an outpatient basis
  • Is most often administered intravenously
  • Can also be administered in pill form, by intraperitoneal infusion (infused directly into the abdominal cavity through a catheter) or through a small pump over several days.

Chemotherapy may be used at different times with different goals:

  • Adjuvant - administered after other primary therapy when there are no signs of cancer present, in order to reduce the risk of recurrence
  • Neo-adjuvant - administered before other primary therapy (usually surgery) in order to make the cancer easier to remove and to reduce the risk of recurrence
  • Radiosensitizing - given in conjunction with radiation therapy, in order to boost the effects of the radiation therapy

Additional Oncological Cancer Treatment

Some other types of oncological cancer treatment include:

  • Hormone therapy - natural substances that inhibit the growth of some types of cancer, usually given in pill form
  • Biologic therapy - some of the newest cancer treatment options that stimulate the body's immune system to fight infection and disease

For more information about our medical oncology treatment options, please call Altru Cancer Center at 701.780.5400.