Center for Cancer Care
Baptist Health Paducah's Center for Cancer Care is ACR-accredited and equipped with a dedicated Philips CT scanner, linear accelerator and state-of-the-art treatment planning center. The goal of treatment is to focus radiation on cancerous cells and minimize damage to normal tissues.
Understanding Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy uses high energy X-rays and/or electrons to destroy or slow the growth of cancer cells. About half of all people with cancer are treated with radiation therapy. It is used for many types of cancer, including cancers of the head and neck, skin cancers, uterine and cervical cancers in women, Hodgkin's disease, leukemia, prostate cancer in men, and lung cancer. For some cancer patients, radiation therapy is the only kind of treatment needed. Other patients receive radiation therapy along with chemotherapy and/or surgery.
Radiation therapy can help cure many different kinds of cancer. It can also be used to relieve cancer symptoms such as pain, pressure or bleeding when a cure isn't possible. Many patients find that quality of life improves after treatment with radiation therapy.
The Treatment Team
Radiation oncologists are doctors who have advanced training and experience in treating cancer patients with radiation. During your first visit to the Center for Cancer Care, you will meet your radiation oncologist. It is his/her job to determine how much and what kind of radiation will be most effective for you. The radiation oncologist heads a team of health professionals which also includes:
- radiation physicists who make sure the equipment is working properly and delivering the right dose of radiation;
- dosimetrists who help develop your treatment plan and perform calculations to carry out the radiation dose prescription;
- registered nurses who prescribe, delegate and coordinate patient care; participate in patient and family teaching; and provide leadership by working cooperatively with ancillary nursing and other patient team personnel; and
- radiation therapists who actually deliver your treatments.
Radiation simulation is the first step patients undergo during the treatment planning process. Baptist Health Paducah uses a dedicated Philips CT Scanner to help isolate the exact location and size of the tumor, as well as the area that is going to be treated is outlined and fluoroscopic X-rays and CAT Scans are used to pinpoint the tumor. The images are used to develop a treatment plan to protect the patient's healthy tissue and isolate the radiation beam directly to the tumor. By simulating an actual treatment, the radiation oncologist, physicist and dosimetrist are able to develop precise treatment plans that maximize the patient's benefit from radiation therapy and minimize unnecessary exposure to radiation.
Patients receive many benefits from having a dedicated CT Scanner, including:
- Treatment planning CT scans are done in the Center for Cancer Care, so patients don't have to go to another department to have them done.
- Patients can have treatment planning CT scans done with the same positioning that will be used for treatments, thus increasing the accuracy of positioning; and
- Images are transmitted directly to the treatment planning computer for accuracy and efficiency.
Using the Radiation Therapy Center's treatment planning computer, your radiation oncologist and the dosimetrist will compute how much radiation you will need, how it will be delivered, the directions from which the rays will be aimed, and how many treatments you should have.
Radiation is given in doses called rads (radiation absorbed doses) or cGy (centi-Gray). The actual number of treatments you will receive depends on the total dose you need, the size and location of your cancer, the type of tumor and your general health. Radiation is given a little at a time, rather than all at once, to protect healthy body tissues. Treatments are usually received five days a week for a period of several weeks. Weekend breaks give normal cells a chance to recover.
Baptist Health Paducah uses IMRT and IGRt technology that allows delivery of radiation to the tumor site while sparing normal tissue as much as possible.
The linear accelerator is the machine which actually delivers the radiation treatment. It produces ionizing radiation which destroys cancer cells.
Before each treatment, you may be asked to change into a hospital gown. Then you will be taken to the treatment room where the radiation therapist will carefully position you on the table. During your treatments, you must lie very still to make sure the radiation hits the right spot each time.
The therapist will leave the room before turning the linear accelerator on. She will be able to see you and hear you on a television monitor recessed in the control area outside the treatment room. Treatments themselves last just seconds. You won't be able to see or feel the radiation while you are receiving it.
During the course of your therapy, your radiation oncologist will watch you carefully to see how well you are tolerating the radiation treatment. Some patients need additional X-rays, CT scans or blood work so the doctor can see the tumor's response to therapy. Many patients who receive radiation therapy experience no side effects at all from their treatments. Others do. Your doctor and radiation therapist can tell you how to deal with any side effects you may experience.
For a comprehensive library of cancer related information, visit our Cancer Care Library. See a copy of our Oncology Report.
For more information about the Center for Cancer Care at Baptist Health Paducah, phone (270) 575-2780.