Radiation Therapy Services

With access to cutting-edge radiation therapies, Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers provides patients with the latest treatments available in the fight against cancer.  To learn more about RMCC's radiation therapy technology, please review the following sections.

Brachytherapy

Brachytherapy, also referred to as internal radiation, uses small radioactive pellets that are placed directly into the prostate. These pellets may be permanent or temporary. Because they are so small, the pellets cause little discomfort and are often left in place after their radioactive material is used up. Sometimes these pellets are referred to as seeds. Brachytherapy may cause several side effects, including impotence, urinary incontinence and bowel problems. In addition, there may be some pain in the area and a red-brown color to the urine for several days after the pellets are put in place. 

Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)

IGRT is the newest radiation therapy offered by RMCC. This therapy ensures even greater accuracy when performing the latest radiation cancer treatments on patients with cancers of the prostate, liver, head and neck, or lung. IGRT is also being used to treat tumors in any body site requiring the most precise and accurate radiation treatments possible.

With image guided radiation therapy, our physicians have the ability to provide patients the best results by enhancing the accuracy of the radiation dose, resulting in a decrease of side effects historically caused by the irradiation of normal body tissues. RMCC was the first community cancer center in Colorado to use this technology.

IGRT utilizes gold markers that are implanted into the cancerous tumor to act as a reference system for the radiation treatment. Prior to each radiation treatment, the markers, which do not move, are located through x-ray images, allowing the doctor to accurately relocate the tumor at each treatment session to accommodate for moving organs. For example, a prostate tumor will move if the patient has a full bladder or rectum. Through IGRT, this movement is detected, maximizing increased accuracy during the treatment.

IGRT is often used with intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT).

Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)

IMRT, a treatment that can potentially save the lives of those who've had little success with existing therapies, allows physicians to deliver higher doses of cancer-killing radiation to tumors with laser-like precision while decreasing the exposure of the surrounding healthy tissues and organs. IMRT alleviates many of the difficulties of traditional radiation therapy, resulting in improved outcomes and fewer complications. 

Through a computer program, IMRT zeroes in on the cancer without damaging the surrounding tissues and organs. IMRT is able to deliver increased amounts of radiation to the cancerous tumor by controlling the shape and intensity of the radiation beam. This allows radiation oncologists to give maximum yet accurate doses of radiation.

RMCC specializes in using IMRT to treat prostate cancer, breast cancer and head and neck cancers.

A highly conformal radiation therapy, IMRT is achieved through the use of a multi-leaf collimator (MLC). The MLC allows the intensity of the beam to be varied over each field, from full intensity to any fraction that approaches zero.  The collimator's leaves are like fingers and divide the field into narrow strips.  Each finger can sweep across the field at a continuum of speed ranging from very slow to very fast.  This allows for variation of the intensity of the beam across the field.  Where the leaves move quickly, the intensity will be low.  Where the leaves sweep slowly, the intensity will be higher because the beam exposes that area for a greater period of time.  With IMRT, RMCC can modulate the intensity of the beam so that when critical structures are within the field they will be given a lesser dose than in areas where only tumor exists.  In areas where both tumor and critical structures fall within the field, the intensity will be adjusted accordingly.  When a variety of ports are used, the dose distributions become highly conformal.  The tumor, regardless of its shape, is optimally covered and the dose can be very minimal to critical structures that are in close proximity to the tumor.  This process is called optimization and is a computer generated best-fit plan. 

Novalis Tx

Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers is pleased to provide treatment options using the Novalis Tx.  The Novalis Tx offers a painless, non-invasive outpatient procedure for cancerous and non-cancerous conditions of the entire body.  Novalis Tx uses a treatment beam contoured to the exact shape of your tumor, pre¬cisely delivering treatment while protecting surrounding healthy tissue.  And a treatment session lasts just minutes, not hours.  Novalis Tx gives new hope to patients with tumors once considered untreatable. Click here to learn more about Novalis Tx.

Radio Camera Technology

Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers uses a high-tech radio camera system, featuring patented optical technology, to help ensure accuracy when performing the latest radiation treatments, such as IMRT and SRT, on patients with head and neck, breast, lung, prostate and brain cancer.  The radio camera gives physicians the ability to provide patients the best results by increasing the accuracy of the radiation dose, resulting in a possible decrease of side effects.

The radio camera uses a laser technology to precisely target the cancerous tumors, reducing their mass.  The camera system accurately relocates the tumor at each treatment session. The camera system can detect this movement to maximize increased accuracy during the treatment.  The radio camera's markers define a coordinate system that is monitored in real time by two infrared cameras.  An optical bite plate allows the camera system to be aligned with the patient at all times to minimize position change.  The continuous reporting of a patient position during all phases of radiation delivery ensures accuracy and safety for the patient.

Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS)

SRS is a computerized treatment system that can be used to treat some brain tumors and delivers a high dose of radiation in one single treatment. SRS is performed on an outpatient basis.

SRS utilizes invisible micro-beams of radiation that are precisely focused to within a fraction of a millimeter on the brain lesion while avoiding the surrounding healthy brain tissue.  Computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging are used to locate the tumor.  SRS is as accurate as Gamma Knife technology and it allows treatment of larger, more irregular tumors.

Stereotactic Radiotherapy (SRT)

SRT is similar to stereotactic radiosurgery and is used in the treatment of cranial and extracranial tumors. The primary difference between SRS and SRT, besides tumor location, is that the dose is delivered over a number of daily fractions instead of one single large dose. RMCC uses a radio-camera system for precise localization prior to the delivery of each daily dose.

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