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HCA Midwest Health

Radiation therapy

An oncologist is a type of doctor who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of cancer. One type of treatment an oncologist may use is radiation therapy, which destroys cancer cells through beams of strong energy.

Radiation oncology in Kansas City

Attacking cancer can often be a difficult and invasive process, but one of the most effective treatments is noninvasive radiation.

Radiation oncology, also called radiation therapy, involves the use of high-energy radiation to eliminate cancer cells. At the Sarah Cannon Institute at HCA Midwest Health, our oncologists use radiation as a core component of your personalized care plan, harnessing advanced therapies to treat various types of cancer, including breast, pancreatic and prostate cancer.

Looking for a second opinion? We can help.

A second opinion can help you make an informed decision about your medical care. Getting a second opinion from an oncology expert at Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at HCA Midwest Health is easy, convenient, secure and can all be done remotely.

A second opinion can help you make an informed decision about your medical care. Getting a second opinion from an oncology expert at Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at HCA Midwest Health is easy, convenient, secure and can all be done remotely.

Comprehensive radiation oncology

As part of our health network's comprehensive oncology program, HCA Midwest Health hospitals provide access to clinical trials and perform radiation therapy during cancer treatment for reasons including:

  • Before surgery, to shrink a cancerous tumor (neoadjuvant therapy)
  • During surgery, to direct large doses of radiation directly at a tumor
  • After surgery, to stop the growth of any remaining cancer cells (adjuvant therapy)
  • In combination with chemotherapy or other treatments
  • Decreasing pressure or pain from a tumor (palliative care)

Types of radiation treatment

Your cancer care team will ensure the best possible care during your journey. If your oncologist recommends radiation therapy as part of your treatment, it can include:

External radiation

In external radiation, treatment comes from a machine outside your body. This radiation comes from a device such as a linear accelerator which delivers external beam radiation to the targeted area of your body. Other kinds of external radiation therapy that HCA Midwest Health offers include:

  • Three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy: Treatment that shapes the radiation beams to match the shape of the tumor without affecting the surrounding healthy tissue
  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT): Treatment using the linear accelerator to deliver radiation to the tumor, minimizing radiation dosage to surrounding tissue
  • Cranial stereotactic surgery: Used by neurosurgeons and radiation oncologists to help patients with benign and malignant brain tumors and arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), it is also useful in controlling face pain caused by trigeminal neuralgia.

Internal radiation

At HCA Midwest Health we pride ourselves on offering the most advanced technologies such as high-dose-rate (HDR) brachytherapy and peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT).

HDR brachytherapy may be useful in treating:

HDR treatment is noninvasive and conducted within the body, so it does not pass through healthy tissues and organs. Patients walk out from HDR therapies with minimal side effects.

The radiation dose is delivered in minutes, so there is no opportunity for the radiation source to shift from where the doctor intended.

PRRT is a treatment for adults with a type of cancer known as gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (GEP-NETs) who test positive for somatostatin receptors. GEP-NETs are tumors of the neuroendocrine cells in the stomach, gut, or pancreas that make hormones, which may cause symptoms such as flushing and diarrhea.

How does radiation therapy work

Several steps are involved in planning your radiation therapy, including:

  • Simulation: The purpose of the simulation is to identify the treatment area. A dedicated CT simulation machine mimics a linear accelerator (the machine that delivers the actual treatment). It produces diagnostic quality X-rays to verify the position of the anatomy being treated.
  • Post-simulation: Once the simulation is completed, your skin may be marked with small dots of permanent ink ("tattoos"). These dots outline the area of radiation and ensure the therapists can treat you accurately each day. If needed, custom immobilization devices will be made for you at the simulation time to help keep the precise position daily. Once the simulation is completed, a unique treatment plan is created using the information gathered.
  • Trial run: The next phase is a trial run, called a set-up, using the actual treatment machine. Special X-rays, called electronic portal images or port films, will be taken to show the X-ray beam path(s). These will be compared to the plans done by the treatment planning team. If your doctor agrees that this is the most effective plan, you are ready to begin treatment.

Daily treatments

We want you to be as comfortable as possible during your radiation treatments. You can expect:

  • Your experienced radiation oncologist will determine the number of treatments you will need based on your personalized treatment plan.
  • Radiation treatments are delivered on consecutive weekdays and with weekends off. Some patients are treated twice a day, depending on the type of cancer.
  • In most cases, you will need to change into a gown for treatment. You will then be escorted into the treatment room by a certified radiation therapist who will administer your treatment.
  • Treatment times vary and could range from a few minutes to 30 minutes based on your plan.
  • You will be in communication with and viewed by your radiation therapist via an intercom system and monitored at all times during your treatment.
  • Once the treatment session is completed, your radiation therapist will help you off the table. You can get dressed and resume your normal schedule. You are not radioactive and do not need to avoid other people because of your treatment.

Potential side effects of treatment usually occur in the area of the body being treated. Some patients have no side effects. If side effects occur, most can be controlled with medications or diet and usually go away within a few weeks after the treatment ends.

On-treatment visits

An on-treatment visit (OTV) occurs on a specific day of the week. During this visit, your radiation oncologist and nurse evaluate you during the treatment. They will monitor your progress and help you manage any side effects.

You will receive post-therapy and follow-up instruction at the end of your course of radiation therapy.

Getting to our radiation therapy centers

Radiation therapy services at Research Medical Center and Menorah Medical Center take place inside the main hospital buildings. Radiation therapy at Centerpoint Medical Center is given at their Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute, which is located less than a mile from Centerpoint Medical Center–that address is:

Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at Centerpoint Medical Center
3889 South Jackson Drive
Independence, MO 64057
Phone: (816) 698-8290

Menorah Medical Center
5721 W 119th Street
Overland Park, KS 66209

Research Medical Center
2316 E Meyer Blvd.
Kansas City, MO 64132

About Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute

As part of Sarah Cannon, the Cancer Network of HCA Healthcare, our family of facilities offer integrated cancer programs with convenient access to cutting-edge therapies for those facing cancer in our communities. From diagnosis to treatment and survivorship care, our oncology experts ensure you have access to locally-trusted care with the support of a globally-recognized network.

askSARAH Helpline

Have cancer questions? We can help. askSARAH is a dedicated helpline for your cancer-related questions. Our specially trained nurses are available 24/7, and all calls are confidential. Contact askSARAH at (352) 339-7000.

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