Radiation is the use of focused beams of photons and/or electrons to destroy or damage cancer cells. Treatment is delivered using a Linear Accelerator (external beam) or High-Dose Rate (internal or brachytherapy) machine. Radiation is often used alone or in combination with Surgery and Chemotherapy to treat a specific area of the body where cancer has grown. It can also be used to alleviate the pain or other symptoms caused by advanced cancer.
The use of radiation technology has been provided at Hamilton Medical Center since 1975 and services relocated to the Judd Radiation Center (Burkett Building) in 1989.
Today HCI provides radiation therapy for all types of adult cancers and is a vital service to our local community.
You can reach Judd Radiation at 706.272.6060.
What to Expect:
HCI follows a five-step approach to radiation cancer care.
- Treatment Planning
Consultation is the first step of your treatment. During your consultation, the physician (Board Certified Radiation Oncologist) will perform a physical examination and review your radiology exams and medical history. Your physician will collaborate with other members of your health care team such as your surgeon, medical oncologist and family doctor to understand your disease and treatment options. Involving you in the decision making, your physician will explain and recommend treatment tailored to your specific needs. Your physician will answer any questions regarding goals and side effects of treatment.
Simulation is the next step of radiation therapy is to identify the exact location of the tumor or area to be treated. To start this process, the radiation oncologist will order a CT scan, or a detailed X-ray image. You will work with a radiation therapist to complete this process. Special positioning devices may be used depending on what body area will need treated. After the scan, the therapist may need to place some marks on your skin to help position you when you begin your treatments. The simulation process can last from 20-60 minutes. Once completed, the treatment planning team (Dosimetrist/Physicist) will use data from your CT images to plan your treatment, which will then be reviewed and approved by the radiation oncologist.
Treatment planning is a highly technical and complex process, involving specially trained personnel and a host of computer software programs. The Dosimetrist is responsible for planning the best way to deliver the dose of radiation ordered by the physician to the tumor while avoiding nearby healthy tissue. Using a special computer, the Dosimetrist calculates the direction of the radiation beam and the type of equipment to use. The images collected during your CT simulation are used during this process. The Physicist reviews and ensures the treatment plans are accurate and in line with the physician’s orders. The Physicist also performs quality testing on the machines (Linear Accelerator/HDR) to ensure the equipment is operating accurately, consistently, and safely. Your treatment plan is then reviewed, customized, and approved by your Radiation Oncologist. The treatment planning process may take a few days or longer depending on the complexity of treatment being planned.
Treatment will be delivered by Radiation Therapists using the treatment plan prescribed by the Radiation Oncologist. Once the Therapist has aligned your treatment area and the machine, they will leave the room, but will maintain contact with you by watching you on a monitor and communication with you via an intercom. The treatment machine may make a small buzzing noise as it rotates to different positions around you but you will not feel anything during your treatment. If you become uncomfortable during your treatment, please tell the therapist and they will come to your assistance.
Treatment is usually scheduled at the same time each day, Monday through Friday (not on weekends or Holidays), over the course of five to seven weeks. You can continue taking your regular medications unless the physician tells you otherwise. Your treatment will take about 20-30 minutes a day depending on what type of treatment you are receiving. As treatment progresses, your treatment plan may be updated and revised depending on your progress and response. This is not uncommon. It is important that you attend each treatment to ensure that you are receiving the most benefit from the plan.
During and after your course of treatment, the Radiation Oncologist will see you on a regular basis for follow-up care. It is important to have regular follow-up exams to check the effectiveness of your treatment. The Radiation Oncologist will determine how often and what tests are necessary after you have completed your radiation therapy. Most patients will also be seen by their surgeon or Medical Oncologist as well, so the frequency of your follow-up appointments may vary depending on the collaboration of your other physicians.
Our State-of-the-Art Equipment includes:
- VARIAN 2100EX Linear Accelerator complete with On- Board Imaging (OBI) and Cone Beam Computerized Tomography
- Varian Acuity Simulator
- GE Wide Bore CT Scanner
- Varian High Dose Rate Brachytherapy
- Varian Eclipse Treatment Planning Computers capable of 3-D and (IMRT) Intensity
- Modulated Radiation Therapy Treatment Planning
Services we provide include:
External Radiation therapy (3-D, IMRT, and SRS/SBRT) for all types of adult cancers
Internal Radiation (HDR/Brachytherapy) for breast and gynecological cancers