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Radiation has been used to treat cancer for more than 100 years, and today more than half of all cancer treatments utilize radiation therapy. The quality of patient care in radiation therapy is dependent on the close interaction of professionals to carry out accurate diagnosis and evaluation of the disease state and the development of a strategic approach to treatment, the development of a specific treatment plan, and the precise administration of treatment and other procedures. We work with your other physicians, and healthcare providers to maintain a team approach to your complete cancer care. We will gladly make referrals for other services if your physician deems an additional supportive therapy or different treatment approach. In the initial consultation with the physician, he or she will evaluate which treatment or combination approach will best be utilized in your cancer care. With any approach, the end result is that the patient receives a timely treatment that offers less side effects and positive outcomes.


IMRT or Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy is a highly specialized treatment that uses computer generated images to plan and then deliver tightly focused radiation beams to cancerous tumors. Powerful computers evaluate millions of possible beam arrangements and then determine the best treatment plan to maximize the radiation dose delivered to the tumor while minimizing the radiation dose to the surrounding normal tissue. IMRT is one facet of treatment options that involves a very complex process which goes through rigorous quality assurance, and numerous checks before radiation is delivered to the treatment site. Athens Regional Cancer Center 's state of the art linear accelerator (the machine that delivers radiation therapy) is outfitted with an accessory called a multileaf collimator. This accessory has 120 computer controlled mechanical “fingers” that shape the beam of radiation so that it conforms to the three-dimenensional shape of a tumor. This technique allows the physician to direct more cancer killing energy at the tumor, while sparing surrounding healthy tissue.

The Athens Regional Cancer Center was one of the first free standing cancer centers nationwide to offer this type of radiation therapy.


IGRT or Image Guided Radiation Therapy is a part of the treatment that uses image verification to correct patient setup deviations, giving physicians the ability to target tumors highly accurately. High resolution x-rays are taken before treatments to pinpoint internal tumor sites. This gives the patients assurance that treatments are delivered consistently and within millimeter accuracy each day.


3D Conformal Radiation Therapy
3D Conformal Radiation Therapy would include photon and/or electron treatments that have been individually designed to deliver radiation doses to the tumor while protecting nearby normal structures. Most of the time, images are obtained of the patient on our in house cat scanner and then sent directly to the treatment planning computer, where the physician works with the physics and dosimetry staff to develop a 3D treatment plan. Once the 3D plan is developed, it is sent to the linear accelerator's record and verify system which guides and documents daily treatment delivery.


Prostate Brachytherapy
Prostate Seed Brachytherapy is a solo or combination therapy for prostate cancer. Radioactive iodine seeds that are the size of a grain of rice are implanted during a minor surgical procedure performed at the hospital in combination with a radiation oncologist, urologist, and under ultrasound and x-ray guidance. The urologist inserts thin needles through the patient's perineum (the area of skin between the testes and anus) in to the prostate. The radiation oncologist then injects the radioactive seeds into the prostate through the hollow needles. Each seed produces an intense amount of radiation to a very small area that covers the prostate organ. The radiation is given off slowly during a two month time frame. The stage and grade of the cancer, size of your prostate, and your overall health will determine the optimal therapy. Photo to the right shows an X-Ray of a Pelvis with Seed Implants.


ACQSim Wide-Bore 3-D Simulation

As part of Athens Regional Cancer Center's commitment to providing better treatment to the people of Athens and surrounding counties, the Center now offers equipment to scan and plan treatments with the only large bore Philips ACQSim scanner in East Tennessee. The 85-centimeter patient opening eliminates positioning and accuracy compromises required with other scanners, and consequently enhances dose accuracy. Patient comfort is improved, claustrophobia is dramatically reduced, and large patients can easily be scanned and visualized. The radiation therapy process begins as radiation therapists gather detailed patient data using the state-of the-art Philips ACQSim Wide-Bore 3-D Simulator. Patients lie inside the simulator, while the machine quickly captures images and precise measurements of the cancerous areas inside their bodies. With this information, the radiation oncologist knows the exact location of the tumor and can determine how the treatment will be delivered.

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