Radiation Oncology

Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells.

Radiation may be used alone or with other treatments to effectively treat breast cancer.

Treating Breast Cancer With Radiation

Radiation oncologists at the Magee-Womens Breast Cancer Program use a wide variety of radiation delivery systems, tailored to each patient, to treat breast cancer:

  • Accelerated partial breast irradiation: delivers radiation to only the immediate region surrounding the tumor, where recurrence of breast cancer is most likely to occur.
    • MammoSite®, Contura®, and Savi®: site-specific radiation therapies deliver a five-day conformed dose of radiation directly to the tumor, helping to spare healthy tissue and decreasing the risk for side effects.
    • Intracavitary breast radiation: a container of radioactive material, temporarily placed inside the breast, provides higher doses of radiation in a shorter time.
  • 3D conformal radiation
  • Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT)
  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
  • High-dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy

Targeting Breast Tumors With Imaging Technology

We also use advanced imaging prior to and during treatment to precisely target your tumor and spare healthy tissue.

Imaging technologies may include:

  • CT simulation: used prior to receiving radiation to ensure you are in the best position to effectively target your breast tumor.
  • PET-CT scans: combines PET and CT technologies to assist radiologists in pinpointing the location of cancerous tissue, so a biopsy can be performed.
  • Respiratory gating: a tracking device “watches” the tumor’s position and briefly shuts off the treatment machine when the tumor moves beyond a certain point, due to breathing or other involuntary movements.

The Radiation Oncology Treatment Team

Your comprehensive team of experts at the Breast Cancer Program includes:

  • Radiation oncologists
  • Radiation therapists
  • Medical physicist
  • Dosimitrist
  • Nurses
  • Physician’s assistant
  • Social workers

We work closely with colleagues in medical oncology (chemotherapy) and surgical oncology (breast cancer surgery) to create a multidisciplinary approach to treating breast cancer.

Some of our experts are also researching strategies for treating breast cancer using radiation therapy.

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