About Radiation Oncology
What Is Radiation Therapy?
Radiation therapy is a painless cancer treatment.
It uses externally applied x-rays or internally delivered radiation to kill cancer cells by damaging their DNA.
Many cancers respond well to radiation therapy.
Radiation Therapy Paired with Other Cancer Treatments
Your doctor may combine radiation with other cancer treatments.
Radiation oncologists at UPMC CancerCenter have extensive skill in using a range of specialized devices and techniques.
We'll work with your doctor and our colleagues in surgical and medical oncology to:
- Tailor a treatment plan to meet your unique needs.
- Deliver the most appropriate form of radiation therapy to treat your type of cancer.
Radiation therapy and surgical oncology
You may need radiation therapy:
- Before surgery — called neoadjuvant treatment.
- After surgery — called adjuvant treatment.
Radiation therapy and medical oncology
Doctors often pair radiation therapy with medical oncology. They call chemoradiation or chemoradiotherapy.
Radiation Therapy as a Stand-Alone Cancer Treatment
For people who aren't candidates for surgery or curative treatments due to poor general health or other medical reasons, radiation therapy as a stand-alone treatment can help:
- Shrink or destroy a tumor that has infiltrated nearby structures.
- Manage cancer symptoms like pain and bleeding.
How Radiation Oncology Works
Most radiation therapies work by the direction of externally generated radiation beams toward a tumor. Methods differ in their administration.
Careful measurements help the radiation oncology team know precisely where to aim the delivery device. The angle for delivering your radiation therapy is crucial.
Much like an x-ray, the effectiveness of radiation therapy depends on the position of the device relative to your position on the table.
Setting up each treatment takes time, but the treatments themselves last only a few minutes. Most people receive radiation therapy about five days a week for several weeks or months.
Types of Radiation Oncology
The team at UPMC CancerCenter includes experts in:
- Cancer diagnostic services
- External beam radiation therapy
- Internal radiation therapy
- Radionuclide therapy
- Stereotactic radiosurgery/ablative radiotherapy
Cancers We Treat With Radiation Oncology
Radiation therapy treatment may help people with the following types of cancers:
- Brain and spinal cord
- Gastrointestinal (esophagus, stomach, pancreas, rectum, and anal canal)
- Gynecologic (cervix, uterus, vagina, and vulva)
- Head and neck (tonsil, tongue, larynx, pharynx, and salivary glands)
- Musculoskeletal (bone, sarcoma)
- Pediatric malignancies
Support Services for Our Radiation Oncology Patients
Besides advanced technology, UPMC CancerCenter offers a range of services that can make you more comfortable and your radiation oncology treatments more effective.
Our support network includes:
- Nutrition services
- Behavioral health services
- Integrative oncology
- Pain management
- Palliative care
- Patient navigator services
Social workers are also part of our team.
They can inform you and your loved ones of your many social support options and provide access to:
- Community resources
- Transportation services
- Other practical aid
Contact the Radiation Oncology Program at UPMC CancerCenter
To ask questions or learn more about radiation therapy at UPMC CancerCenter, please call us at 412-647-2811.