Radiation therapy-the careful and precise use of high-energy radiation to target tumors or diseased areas of the body-has advanced dramatically over the years, becoming safer and more effective.
Besides curing cancer, radiation therapy can shrink tumors that press against bones, nerves or organs. It may also be used before surgery to reduce a tumor, or after surgery to stop the growth of remaining cancer cells.
About two-thirds of patients diagnosed with cancer are candidates for radiation therapy. Generally, a course of therapy takes four to six weeks to complete.
Piedmont is committed to a team approach to radiation treatment. A radiation oncologist (a doctor who specializes in using radiation to treat cancer) prescribes the type and amount of treatment that is right for the patient. He/she works with other specialists to administer the appropriate treatment-including a radiation physicist, who makes sure that the equipment is working properly and that the machines deliver the right dose of radiation; a dosimetrist, who works under the direction of your doctor and the radiation physicist and calculates the amount of radiation to be delivered; a radiation therapist, who positions the patient for treatments and operates the equipment that delivers the radiation; and a radiation nurse, who coordinates patient care, helps educate the patient and his/her family about treatment, and explains how to manage side effects.
Our radiation program is one of the broadest and best established in the state with 25 years of continuous approval from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer. More than 1,000 patients are treated each year through the Piedmont Healthcare system.
Gamma Knife: Surgery without the Incision
As cancer treatment evolves, more patients are benefiting from stereotactic radiosurgery, an effective non-surgical option that replaces scalpels with radiation beams, targeted to a specific area, literally killing the offending tissue. Patients are in and out of the hospital in a day's time-and back to their normal routines immediately-with no incision. Radiosurgery may be used in place of or in addition to traditional surgery, depending on the patient's diagnosis.
Neurosurgeons from Piedmont Hospital were the first in the Southeast to offer the Gamma Knife-the most precise radiation treatment available for patients with inoperable brain tumors or vascular malformations. The Gamma Knife uses up to 201 precisely focused beams of cobalt-60 radiation to destroy deep-seated brain tumors without harming surrounding healthy tissue. Doctors also use it to treat functional disorders originating from deep within the brain.
The Gamma Knife is a non-invasive stereotactic radiosurgery instrument that works with no scalpel or incision - it's not a knife at all. Instead, the Gamma Knife uses more than 200 precisely focused gamma radiation beams of Cobalt-60 radiation to destroy malignant and nonmalignant tumors, as well as vascular disorders in the brain, without harming surrounding healthy tissue.
Piedmont remains the regional leader in delivering Gamma Knife treatments. Since 1989, more than 2,200 patients have benefited from our expertise in this groundbreaking science. The first in the Southeast and fourth in the nation to host the Gamma Knife, Piedmont has nearly 20 years of experience with this revolutionary technology. In addition, Piedmont has treated more patients with brain tumors than any other hospital in metro Atlanta.
Physicians also use the Gamma Knife to treat functional disorders originating from deep within the brain.
For More Information
- Download the RadioSurgery Services Fact Sheet
- Download a brochure about Gamma Knife
External Beam Radiation Treatment
Piedmont offers the most innovative and technologically advanced external beam radiation treatments available in the world today. Treatment planning is based on 4-dimensional images obtained from a CT scanner designed specifically for radiation oncology. Radiation treatments are custom designed for each patient.
The linear accelerators, or treatment machines, have a variety of advanced features which allow the radiation oncologists to focus on the area of interest with sub-millimeter accuracy to minimize side effects and achieve the best treatment results. Image guidance and cone beam CT enable the treatment team to take real-time images of the tumor immediately before treatment. These images confirm the exact location of the tumor before the radiation is delivered. Respiratory gating adapts treatment delivery to match a patient's breathing. The linacs only deliver treatment during a specified phase of the patient's breathing cycle so that margins can be extremely tight and avoid critical surrounding tissue. Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy and 3D Conformal Radiation Therapy deliver high levels of radiation to the area specified by the physician and spare critical surrounding areas to minimize side effects. RapidArcΓäó reduces the time of standard treatment delivery to less than five minutes.
For more information watch the video, An Introduction to External Beam Radiation Therapy
Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy
Certain tumors can be treated in one to five high intensity treatments with Extracranial Stereotactic Radiotherapy. Stereotactic body radiation is used to treat small tumors in the lung, abdomen, and close to the spinal cord. This ultra-precise form of treatment provides results similar to surgery for patients whose tumors are considered inoperable. Piedmont has one of the most experienced SRT treatment teams in the United States.
For more information, please contact one of our Patient Navigators.