The goal of radiation therapy is to eradicate or shrink the tumor cells without damaging the surrounding tissue. Radiation therapy may be used to cure a cancer, to help keep it from spreading, or to help improve quality of life by relieving pain or other symptoms.

Located in the Lunder Building, our main radiation oncology facility called the Clark Center houses:

  • 6 linear accelerators
  • 2D simulator

In addition, in the Cox Buidling we operate:

  • A High Dose Rate (HDR) brachytherapy treatment unit
  • 2 CT scanners dedicated to radiation treatment planning
  • A seventh linear accelerator is located in the operating room and is used in select cases to deliver a single large dose to patients during surgery to remove their tumor (intraoperative radiation therapy)

 

Radiation therapy uses high energy x-rays to kill cancer cells. The radiation sources may be external (from outside the body) and come from x-rays aimed at the cancer; or the radiation source may be internal (from inside the body) and come from radioactive implants. The goal of both external and internal radiation therapy is to kill the cancer cells while limiting the damage to healthy normal cells around the tumor. Most healthy cells that are damaged by the radiation can quickly repair themselves.

The majority of radiation oncology patients receive treatments once per day, five days per week. The radiation oncologist determines the total number of treatments. Licensed radiation therapists faithfully administer the radiation “prescription.”

Our linear accelerators vary in the energy of their beams. We take advantage of their differences by assigning patients to the treatment unit that will provide the optimal energy beam for their type and location of tumor. Special radiation technologies available within the scope of the program include:

  • Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
    A type of conformal radiation which shapes the radiation beam to approximately the shape of the tumor. IMRT enables a more precise conformal radiation dose distribution to the target area by allowing the physician to control the intensity of the radiation beam within a given area.
  • Stereotactic radiation surgery and fractionated stereotactic therapy
    Precise delivery of radiation to a brain tumor while sparing normal surrounding brain tissue. This technique achieves a higher dose than what could be given with conventional techniques.
  • Intraoperative radiation therapy
    Delivers a large, precise dose of radiation directly into the tumor bed during surgery
  • High dose rate brachytherapy
    Procedure where doctors place a very high enery radiation source inside your body near the tumor site for a brief peroid of time. Healthy exposure to normal surrounding tissue can be minimized.
  • Image guided therapy
  • PBI (Partial Breast Irradiation)
    Breast sparing procedure that delivers external beam radiation twice a day for five days following lumpectomy surgery. This technique offers a significant time saver compared to the whole breast irradiation protocol which requires five to seven weeks of radiation therapy. Treatment with this technique includes a critical selection process by the treatment team.
  • 4-D Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
    Adds another dimension (time) to the traditional CT scan used to plan radiation treatment. This method allows radiation therapists to precisely target therapy to moving organs such as the lungs.
  • Respiratory Gating
    A technique that synchronizes radiation to a tumor’s movement, sparing healthy tissue by stopping or "gating" the beam when the tumor moves out of treatment range.

If you have questions regarding the MGH Department of Radiation Oncology please send an email to informationradonc@partners.org.