Radiation therapy alters the DNA in cancer cells so they cannot reproduce successfully. With recent advances, our doctors can deliver radiation beams with the greatest precision to eliminate tumors without damaging surrounding healthy tissue.
Radiation oncologists at El Camino Health’s two campuses in Mountain View and Los Gatos bring superior skills honed by their work with thousands of patients over more than 20 years. Many of the doctors subspecialize in treating cancers of the prostate, breast, lungs, head and neck. This expertise is complemented by their friendly, reassuring manner. They encourage you to maintain close contact with them throughout your treatment and are committed to treating you as they would their own family members.
Our entire radiation oncology department strives to make you as comfortable as possible and to ease your way through cancer treatment. Radiation doctors work closely with surgeons and medical oncologists, considering all options as they collaborate to give you the best available care.
The advanced radiation technologies at El Camino Health’s Radiation Treatment Center are the same as you’d expect to find at a top academic medical center.
Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS)
Despite its name, stereotactic radiosurgery is a nonsurgical, noninvasive technique for delivering radiation beams to a tumor with great precision. We have some of the most sophisticated machines available — CyberKnife® and RapidArc® — to deliver the radiation.
With the accuracy of SRS, we can use CyberKnife and RapidArc to deliver higher doses of radiation in fewer sessions — usually one to five sessions, as compared to traditional radiation therapy, which may take several sessions over several weeks. Each SRS treatment takes about 30 to 90 minutes. We use SRS to eliminate both benign and cancerous tumors.
During the treatment, you lie on a table as your doctors and other members of our radiation therapy team locate the tumor using 3-D imaging, such as CT or MRI.
Imaging allows us to locate the tumor and define its exact size and shape. We position you carefully and securely to ensure the accuracy of the treatment. You remain awake and won’t feel any pain as the machine moves around you and delivers radiation therapy from various angles.
We use SRS on tumors anywhere in the head or body. It’s particularly effective for people who are unable to have surgery or who have a tumor in a location that’s hard to reach or close to vital organs or structures.
One of the most recent developments in stereotactic radiosurgery is the CyberKnife, in which a sophisticated instrument resembling a large robotic arm delivers high-dose radiation with submillimeter precision from hundreds of angles. In most cases, CyberKnife is able to totally eliminate a tumor.
Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)
IMRT is a form of 3D therapy that uses a computer-driven machine that moves around you as it delivers radiation. In addition to shaping the beams and aiming them at the tumor from several angles, the radiation oncologist can adjust the intensity of the beams to minimize the dose reaching normal tissues, while delivering an even higher dose to the cancerous areas.
At El Camino Health Cancer Center, we use both conventional IMRT and RapidArc, which is an advanced form of image-guided IMRT that’s two to eight times faster than conventional IMRT.
During IMRT treatment, you must be immobilized so that we can precisely target your tumor. What differentiates RapidArc IMRT from other IMRT treatments is the ability to dramatically shorten each treatment.
Using a linear accelerator, RapidArc delivers a complete IMRT treatment with a single 360-degree rotation of the treatment machine around you, typically in less than two minutes.
Not only are the shorter treatments more convenient and comfortable for you (less time immobilized), but there’s less likelihood of the tumor being displaced due to normal functions, such as gas moving through the digestive system or your bladder filling during the treatment.
We use RapidArc IMRT most extensively to treat cancers of the prostate, chest, head and neck, and central nervous system.
We continue to use conventional IMRT in many cases, as well. Because we offer all radiation treatment options, we have the ability to evaluate all possibilities and select the treatment that’s best for you.
Brachytherapy allows our radiation oncologists to implant radioactive “seeds” at the site of a tumor. The doctors at El Camino Health are among the most experienced in the region at implanting these seeds for men with prostate cancer.
The doctors also use brachytherapy for lung and breast cancers. The seeds can destroy remaining cancer cells once we surgically remove a tumor. We also may use brachytherapy as a primary treatment method if you and your doctor decide surgery is not your best option. Precise placement of the seeds allows your doctor to spare surrounding healthy tissue.
Doctors generally perform brachytherapy as an outpatient procedure.