Jordan Valley Cancer Center is proud to partner with Gamma West Cancer Services to bring advanced radiation therapy to patients in West Jordan and Salt Lake City, UT. Gamma West is led by Dr. John K. Hayes, Jr., M.S., M.D., one of the first physicians in the Intermountain West to specialize in radiation therapy. Through this partnership, Jordan Valley Cancer Center is able to offer some of the most comprehensive cancer care available. Learn more about our use of radiation therapy…
What is radiation therapy?
Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy radiation, such as x-rays and gamma rays, to destroy cancer cells and reduce tumor size. Radiation therapy is one of the most common cancer treatments in the U.S. Approximately 50 percent of cancer patients will undergo some type of radiation therapy.
How does radiation therapy work?
Radiation therapy attacks cancer cells by destroying the DNA within the cancer cells. Once the DNA sustains a certain level of damage, the cells stop dividing and replicating. As they die off, the body naturally breaks down the tissues and eliminates the cells.
Unfortunately, as you may be aware, radiation therapy does not only kill cancer cells. It can also destroy healthy cells, which can cause side effects. Because this is a possibility, radiation oncologists carefully calculate whether or not a patient can tolerate the anticipated risk levels. The good news is, advancements in radiation therapy at Jordan Valley Cancer Center allow for highly targeted radiation with much improved preservation of healthy tissues. Elekta Versa HD LINAC is one such technology frequently used at our West Jordan cancer treatment facility.
Reasons to Have Radiation Therapy
Radiation may be administered as either a curative therapy or palliative therapy. “Curative” means the radiation oncologist intends for the therapy to eliminate the cancerous tumor and/or prevent the cancer from recurring. “Palliative” means the radiation oncologist does not necessarily intend for the therapy to cure the patient, but provide relief from symptoms caused by the cancer. Shrinking tumors can relieve pressure and improve quality of life. Both curative and palliative radiation therapies may be combined with surgery or chemotherapy to maximize effectiveness.
Your radiation oncologist will work with you and with any other oncologists you are seeing at Jordan Valley Cancer Center to determine the details of your radiation therapy plan. The following factors could influence your eligibility as a candidate for radiation therapy:
- Cancer type
- Cancer size
- Cancer stage
- Cancer location
- Cancer’s proximity to healthy tissues that could be damaged by radiation
- Distance radiation would need to travel through the body to reach cancer cells
- Your overall health and medical history
- Whether or not you have had or will have other forms of cancer treatment
- Age, medical conditions, family history, etc.
What Types of Cancer Can Be Treated with Radiation Therapy?
- Endometrial (uterine)
- Vaginal & Vulvar Cancers
- Skin – We treat skin with external beam on the Versa HD LINAC or HDR Brachytherapy using the Valencia Leipzig system.
Planning Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy requires advanced planning for best results. During the planning phase, your physician will order CT scans (sometimes MRI, PET or ultrasound scans, as well) to create a clear picture of the tumor’s size and location among the healthy cells. This planning allows the radiation team to position the patient in the exact same way throughout every dose of external radiation, ensuring the best results and the safest, most accurate delivery of radiation therapy.
How is radiation therapy administered?
Generally speaking, there are three ways to administer radiation therapy:
- External-beam radiation therapy: Radiation is administered via a machine outside the body. Elekta Versa HD LINAC is one form of external-beam radiation therapy used at Jordan Valley Cancer Center.
- High-dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy: A type of internal radiation therapy that delivers radiation from implants placed close to, or inside, the tumor(s) in the body.
- Systemic radiation therapy: In this approach, a radioactive substance is introduced to the body (either orally or intravenously), which then travels throughout the body via the blood.
Radiation therapy is oftentimes administered in multiple sessions; this practice allows the total amount of radiation to be divided up into smaller doses, which minimizes tissue damage and also increases the chances of introducing radiation to cells at a point in their cycle when the DNA can be most easily destroyed.
Radiation before… or after… surgery?
Radiation may be administered before, after or even during surgery. The timing of the radiation therapy depends on many factors, such as the treatment’s goal and the type of surgery. Your cancer care team at Jordan Valley Cancer Care is able to answer questions about combining radiation therapy with surgery, as it pertains to your individual case.
Radiation Therapy Side Effects
Radiation therapy does have some side effects. Acute side effects may include:
- Damage or irritation to skin
- Certain body systems may not work normally in the days following radiation therapy. For example, radiation to the head or neck may cause hair loss; radiation to the bladder may cause urinary difficulties, etc.
Chronic side effects may include:
- Salivary gland damage
- Memory loss
- Bowel damage
- Scar tissue
- Second cancer (rare)
The potential side effects of radiation therapy are largely dependent on the amount and location of the radiation (among other factors). Ask to your physician for more information.
Radiation Therapy for Cancer In West Jordan, UT
At Jordan Valley Cancer Center, we believe in an integrative approach to cancer care. By bringing together radiation, medical and surgical oncologists, our team is able to offer patients a full spectrum of treatment options. For more information about your radiation therapy options at Jordan Valley Cancer Center, please contact us by calling 801-601-2260.