Our advanced radiation oncology program
Radiation therapy is used to successfully treat many types of cancer. About 50 to 60 percent of cancer patients will receive radiation therapy as part of their cancer treatment. Advancements in targeting have enabled our radiation oncologists to locate and treat tumors with precision, minimizing damage to healthy tissue. This technology not only provides increased accuracy, it also limits side effects and improves our patients' chances for a cure.
Some people will tell you the most important features of the Radiation Oncology department at Community Hospital are the advanced treatment options. Others will tell you it is the quality of patient care - the attention to detail, the warm blankets, the kind words, the reassuring touch, the willing ear, the joyful ringing of a bell to signal the end of treatment.
We think that unsurpassed technology and quality care are both important parts of the healing process, and we are proud to excel in both areas. While cancer treatment is always stressful, we try to make the process as comfortable as possible for you and your family.
Keeping you safe
We know you are concerned about safety when it comes to radiation treatment — and so are we. Our team of expertly trained clinicians uses advanced technology and multiple safety checks to ensure that treatment is planned and delivered as safely as possible. Learn more about how we do it, and what you should look for if you are considering radiation therapy.
What is radiation therapy?
Radiation therapy involves the precise and careful use of high-energy radiation to treat cancer. The radiation cripples the cancer cells' ability to reproduce, and the body is then able to rid itself of the cancerous cells.
Community Hospital uses the most advanced technology to ensure the safest, most accurate and effective treatment. Our advanced technologies are unsurpassed in Monterey County.
- Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), designed to give tumors a customized dose of radiation while minimizing the effect on healthy tissue
- Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT), which enables radiation oncologists to pinpoint the exact location of the tumor before each treatment
- State-of-the-art linear accelerators, commonly found only at major urban facilities
Superficial therapy, which treats skin cancer with low-energy X-rays
Radiation therapy falls into two main categories. The most common is external beam radiation therapy, which uses radiation generated by a machine outside the body. The second category is brachytherapy, which uses radioactive sources that are implanted in the body. Your cancer treatment may involve one or both of these types of radiation therapy in addition to other treatments, including chemotherapy, hormone therapy, surgery, or radiofrequency ablation.
Learn more about external beam radiation therapy.
Learn more about brachytherapy.
Your treatment will involve a team including:
- A radiation oncologist, who will evaluate your case and recommend a specific treatment or combination of treatments as well as the frequency and duration of your treatments.
- A radiation physicist and a dosimetrist, who will make detailed calculations about the radiation your radiation oncologist has prescribed and plan the delivery of your treatments.
- A radiation therapist, who will deliver the treatments. This is a person you may get to know well through the course of your treatment.
- Radiation oncology nurses who will meet with patients for pre- and post-treatment education regarding self-care during radiation treatment and provide care on a weekly basis to help manage any side effects.
Possible side effects
We make every effort to minimize the side effects while maximizing the effectiveness of your treatment. We encourage open communication from patients so we can address your needs as you are undergoing radiation treatment. Side effects generally go away soon after treatment is complete. Common side effects include:
- General side effects- fatigue, localized symptoms in the area being treated such as redness, irritation, hair loss, or darkening of the skin.
- For treatment in the abdominal or pelvic area - loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea, irritation of the urinary and digestive tracts, vaginal dryness in women, and erection problems in men.
- For treatment in the chest - sore throat, cough, or shortness of breath.
- For treatment in the head or neck - sore throat or mouth, dry mouth, thickening of saliva in the mouth or throat, decreased thyroid function.