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Radiation Oncology at Drexel Cancer Care

Radiation oncology is a specialized field of medicine that uses radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing and dividing. Drexel Cancer Care specialists work with the radiation oncology team at Hahnemann University Hospital to provide safe and effective treatments for our patients with cancerous and noncancerous lesions.

Types of Radiation Therapy

There are several types of radiation therapy available for patients of Drexel Cancer Care.

Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)

Intensity-modulated radiation therapy is the latest advance in three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy. It combines the use of advanced, high-speed computers and treatment planning software with imaging modalities such as CT, positron emission tomography (PET) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Intensity-modulated radiation therapy is currently used to treat paraspinal lesions, and cancers of the prostate, brain, breast, head and neck.


Brachytherapy uses radioactive seeds or needles, which are implanted into the body to deliver radiation directly to a tumor. This concentrated dose of radiation can be permanent or temporary.

High dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy is a special machine with a series of catheters where high-intensity radiation is delivered directly to the tumor, sparing adjacent tissues. High dose rate brachytherapy may be used to treat cervical/endometrial cancer, prostate, lung, esophagus, skin or breast cancer.

SAVI or Mammosite® are types of brachytherapy that deliver a course of medication over a five-day period for early stage breast cancer that offer selected patients an alternative to six-week whole-breast radiation therapy.

Low dose rate (LDR) brachytherapy involves radioactive sources that are placed within the tissues to treat prostate, gynecologic, breast, bile duct, and head and neck cancers.

Stereotactic radiosurgery

Stereotactic radiosurgery is used in the treatment of brain tumors or lesions. Using 3-D planning and computer software, high-intensity radiation is delivered to the precise treatment area.

Total body irradiation

Total body irradiation is most often used to prepare patients who will undergo bone marrow transplantation. This therapy suppresses or destroys the recipient's immune response, preventing a rejection of donor bone marrow. Total body irradiation can also get rid of residual cancer cells in the recipient, increasing the likelihood that the bone marrow transplant will be successful.

Total skin electron therapy (TSET)

Total skin electron therapy is used for treatment of skin cancers, superficial lesions and shallow tumor volumes. This type of treatment spares the deeper-lying tissues. Total skin electron therapy treats patients with cutaneous lymphoma (mycosis fundoides), as well as several other disorders.

Radiation Therapy Delivery Methods

There are several ways radiation therapy is delivered to patients.

Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT)

Image-guided radiation therapy is daily imaging to pinpoint the location of tumors that tend to shift, such as those affected by breathing movements or the normal filling of the rectum and bladder. Image-guided radiation therapy is primarily used when tumors are directly next to critical structures, or when the conventional means of targeting are not adequate.

Three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy

Three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy uses CT imaging and advanced software tools to create three-dimensional images of the anatomy under treatment and the structures nearby. This technique allows specialists to precisely target diseased tissue and avoid normal areas.

The information on these pages is provided for general information only and should not be used for diagnosis or treatment, or as a substitute for consultation with a physician or health care professional. If you have specific questions or concerns about your health, you should consult your health care professional.

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