Radiation therapy destroys cancer cells by directing a high-energy beam to the cancer site with minimal harm to healthy cells. One of the most common treatments for cancer, radiation therapy is targeted and minimally invasive compared to surgery or chemotherapy. Often, radiation treatment is given concurrently or in combination with other forms of cancer treatment to maximize positive results.
Radiation does not affect cancer cells right away—it takes days or weeks of treatment before cancer cells deteriorate. Radiation continues to affect cancer cells after treatments are complete, and are given daily Monday-Friday for a period of time prescribed by your radiation oncologist.
Coming Soon: New Linear Accelerator (Linac)
Cooley Dickinson is currently installing a new, advanced linear accelerator unit (linac) which will more precisely target radiation treatments and dramatically shorten their duration. For patients who require external beam radiation therapy for cancer treatment, the Vitkauskas Crowe Radiation Oncology Suite, part of the Mass General Cancer Center at Cooley Dickinson Hospital, will offer treatment using equipment that more precisely targets tumors while minimizing side effects. The new linac’s precision and power will allow us to provide radiation treatment to patients in 8-12 minutes that now requires roughly half an hour.
Radiation Treatment at Cooley Dickinson:
If you are scheduled to receive radiation treatment at Cooley Dickinson Hospital, please consider the following:
• Your visit may last from 1-3 hours
• If you are unable to keep an appointment, please call 413-582-2107 to reschedule
• You are encouraged to bring a family member or a friend with you to your appointment
Please bring to your appointment:
• A legible list of current medications and their doses
• A completed Patient Health Assessment form (enclosed in your information packet)
• All insurance cards (if your insurance requires a referral, please contact your PCP with this appointment information)
• Please check with your insurance company regarding any co-pays your visit will require
Tumors are painstakingly targeted during radiation therapy to make sure that as much healthy tissue as possible remains unaffected, but these precise calculations can be skewed to some degree by movement due to normal breathing during treatment. The Mass General Cancer Center at Cooley Dickinson Hospital now employs a promising new technique known as Deep Inspiration Breath Hold (DIBH), which allows radiation beam emitters to be adjusted to compensate for patient motion during treatment sessions. The practice, which can be used in treatment of lung, liver and other thoracic cancers, has received very positive clinical reviews and is recommended by The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO). The technique has been noted as especially effective in sparing healthy tissues in the heart during treatment of cancers of the left breast.