Radiation Oncology

Harnessing the power of radiation to treat cancer

Just the thought of radiation can be frightening. Often we think of it as something causes cancer rather than treats it. But used in a highly targeted way, radiation can be a valuable tool in cancer treatment.

The radiation oncology department at Adventist Health Portland offers many up-to-date technologies including:

  • Image guided radiation therapy (IGRT): Utilizes on-board cone beam CT imaging to visualize targets with the ability to make subtle 3D adjustments as needed.
  • Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT): A beam of radiation is modulated during treatment to create a customized dose around a tumor target
  • Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT): Allows high doses of ablative radiation to be focused on a tumor target with treatment completed in five or fewer sessions.
  • Volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT): Radiation delivered in an arc around the patient to take advantage of all angles that conforms the dose around a 3D target.

Your custom treatment plan will be created by your team of cancer care specialists. Many patients combine radiation with other treatments like hormone therapy, chemotherapy and/or surgery. Your team, including your radiation oncologist, works together to get the best possible outcome for you as you heal from cancer.

What is radiation therapy?

The goal of radiation therapy is to kill the cancer cells with as little risk and side effects as possible to the normal cells. Radiation therapy uses penetrating beams of high-energy waves or streams of particles. Examples of lower-energy radiation you've likely experienced include X-rays of teeth and bones.

The high-energy radiation used for cancer treatment usually comes from a special machine. Although this radiation has a higher energy than a standard X-ray, it's targeted with great precision by a special machine to protect your healthy tissue while destroying cancer cells.

To protect normal cells, we carefully limit the doses of radiation and spread the treatment out over time. We also shield as much normal tissue as possible while they aim the radiation at the site of the cancer.