Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is often recommended after surgery to increase the effectiveness of treatment. At North Mississippi Medical Center, physicians, including surgeons, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists, work together to develop the best course of treatment for each patient.

Radiation oncologists use high-energy radiation to destroy cancer cells. External beam radiation therapy uses radiation delivered from outside the body that is focused on the cancer. Patients do not actually feel radiation treatments.

Cutting-Edge Technology

Stereotactic Radiosurgery

NMMC Cancer Care uses stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) for the treatment of some brain tumors. Traditionally, brain tumors have been treated using whole-brain radiation.

Stereotactic radiosurgery means we can achieve higher control rates and fewer side effects. A much higher dose of radiation can be given to a much smaller area, sparing healthy brain tissue.

This outpatient treatment option uses the traditional linear accelerator with additional technology. SRS is a non-surgical radiation therapy that delivers precisely-targeted radiation in fewer high-dose treatments.

Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) is also an option for some lung and liver cancers. SBRT makes it possible to safely treat some patients who did not have many options before - particularly those who are unable to undergo surgery.

Y-90 for Liver Cancer

For patients who have liver cancer, or cancer that has metastasized into the liver from elsewhere in the body, radioembolization is an outpatient treatment option available at NMMC.

Radioembolization, or Y-90, is a minimally invasive treatment that uses tiny radioactive beads, called microspheres, to deliver radiation directly to cancerous tumors in the liver. The beads, which measure about one-third the diameter of a human hair, are placed directly inside the tumor. Over a period of 10 to 12 days, the beads emit high dose radiation, causing the tumor to shrink. Y-90 is used to treat liver cancer that cannot be removed with surgery. It has the potential to shrink tumors or downstage them, so a patient would be eligible for other treatments. Radioembolization has been shown to help liver cancer patients live longer with an improved quality of life.

TrueBeam Linear Accelerator

NMMC Cancer Care uses the TrueBeam system, an innovative system that enables our physicians to treat even challenging cases with speed and precision.

With dose delivery rates that are 40-140 percent higher than earlier generations of Varian technology, the TrueBeam system can complete a treatment commensurately faster. This makes it possible to offer greater patient comfort by shortening treatments, and to improve precision by leaving less time for tumor motion during dose delivery. Intelligent automation further speeds treatments with an up to fivefold reduction in the number of steps needed for image guidance and dose delivery.

Simple treatments that once took 15 minutes or more can be completed in less than two once the patient is in position. These are significant reductions in treatment time. Patients spend less time lying still, immobilized on a hard surface.

RapidArc

NMMC was the first in Mississippi to offer treatment using RapidArc radiotherapy technology from Varian Medical Systems. RapidArc is a fast, precise form of treatment that is delivered eight times faster than is possible with conventional radiation therapy technologies. By delivering radiation doses more quickly and with great accuracy, NMMC clinicians can simultaneously improve the quality of care while making patients more comfortable.

Image-Guided Radiotherapy

Physicians at NMMC use image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT) treatment for cancer patients that offers advanced imaging to more precisely locate tumors at the moment of treatment.

This technology from Varian Medical Systems combines imaging and treatment on one machine, providing fast and accurate adaptive radiotherapy treatments that deliver high doses of radiation directly to cancer cells while minimizing the dose to surrounding healthy tissues. Radiation oncologists have previously had to deal with variations in patient position and target motion by including a margin of healthy tissue around the tumor to account for variation in daily positioning.

Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy

This radiotherapy system, which includes two linear accelerators, is capable of delivering IMRT (Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy).

NMMC's clinicians use the SmartBeam IMRT system from Varian Medical Systems to treat patients with certain types of cancer with precisely placed beams that can be focused to carefully target tumor cells. The enhanced doses increase the likelihood that a tumor will be completely eradicated.

Your Treatment

Before beginning your treatment, a course of radiation therapy will be specifically designed for you and your disease. To do this, you will undergo a treatment planning CT. This is unlike a diagnostic CT you might have received elsewhere. 

It is often necessary to create a device used to position your body. These devices could include body molds, a mask or special pads. After the scan, ink marks may be placed on your body or mask. Generally, your next appointment will be approximately one week from your treatment
planning CT.

During this time, your radiation oncologist, dosimetrists and physicists will
use data from your CT image to design and verify your personalized treatments.

Radiation treatments are usually given Monday through Friday, not on the weekends. In general, treatments can last from two to eight weeks depending on the doctor’s orders. You will be at Radiation Oncology approximately 30 minutes every day. 

You will be positioned on the treatment table by your therapist every day for treatment. Images will be taken and verified that your position has not changed. You will not feel, see or taste anything during your treatment. You will hear a slight buzzing sound and see the machine rotate around you. The machine will not touch you. You will not be radioactive after your treatment; therefore, you can be around other people, including children and pregnant women. You will not feel any different after your first treatment. If symptoms occur during the course of your treatments, please inform your nurse or therapist.

Side Effects

Side effects depend on the location of the cancer and the amount of radiation you need and may include:

  • Depression and fatigue
  • Dry and irritated skin
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Painful urination
  • Diarrhea and
  • Dry, painful mouth.

Most side effects last only a short time and will go away after treatments are complete.

Contact Us

For more information, call
(662) 377-4550.