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Radiation Oncology

You’ve probably heard of radiation. It’s a form of energy that can travel in waves. Radiation energy powers many kinds of technology, from microwaves to airport security scanners. Radiation energy can also be used in healthcare to treat cancer and other conditions. 

When it’s used to target and damage cancer cells, this kind of treatment is called radiation therapy. If you, or a loved one, need radiation to treat cancer, PeaceHealth is here to help. We offer advanced radiation therapy close to your home, plus many related services to support you and your family. 

Who needs radiation therapy?

Radiation therapy is a common treatment for prostate cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer and many other cancers. It’s usually offered along with other treatments like surgery or chemotherapy

If you have cancer, you and your doctor will decide if radiation therapy is right for you. If your treatment plan includes radiation, your care team will include specialists such as radiation oncologists (cancer doctors) and radiation therapists (healthcare professionals who deliver radiation treatments) plus other caregivers like nurse navigators and care coordinators who help you plan for treatment and manage symptoms. They all work together to support your health and well-being. 

How does radiation therapy work?

There are two main kinds of radiation therapy. The approach that’s best for you will depend on your cancer type and where it is located in your body.

  • External beam radiation: Guided by a skilled specialist, a machine outside of your body aims radiation at the cancer in your body. This treatment destroys cancer cells while avoiding the healthy tissue nearby. 

PeaceHealth uses advanced tools like image-guided radiation (TrueBeam LINAC). Some of our cancer centers also offer robot-assisted radiation (CyberKnife SBRT) and noninvasive gamma-ray radiation for brain tumors (Gamma Knife radiosurgery). These technologies may mean fewer side effects and shorter treatment times than traditional radiation therapy.

  • Internal radiation: This therapy is also called brachytherapy. Instead of targeting cancer with a machine, your cancer specialist places radioactive materials inside your body to destroy cancer cells. The materials (either solid or liquid) are put near the tumor or sent through your bloodstream. 

People used to worry about side effects from radiation, but advances in technology have made radiation therapy more accurate, more comfortable for you and more effective, too.

What to expect at PeaceHealth 

At PeaceHealth, cancer care includes more than appointments and medical treatments. You’ll find:

  • A whole-person approach that includes many kinds of services.
  • Passionate providers you will get to know and trust.
  • Shared decision-making, so you and your family can get your needs met.
  • Cancer centers close to where you live, so you don’t have to go far for great care.

As you begin treatment, your radiation specialists will focus on stopping the cancer’s growth. Your team will use the most precise tools available. At the same time, we’ll never lose sight of your comfort and wishes. Here’s what to expect.

  • Preparing for treatment: Your radiation oncologist and nurse navigator or care coordinator will prepare you for radiation therapy. They’ll explain the risks, the benefits and what will happen next. You’ll be able to get answers to your questions, voice any concerns and ask for help if you need it. 
  • During treatment: Radiation therapy can last just a few minutes or several weeks. Most people need more than one treatment. Radiation is painless, but some people experience side effects like redness or swelling. Your care team can help you manage any side effects. They will keep track of your progress and how well your treatment is working.
  • Teamwork: Your radiation team will meet every day to discuss your care. You’ll see them weekly to talk about how things are going. Your family and loved ones are part of the care team, too. With everyone working together, we can give you the best possible care and support. 

Why choose PeaceHealth

PeaceHealth cancer care is fully integrated. This means your radiation specialists work closely with the rest of your cancer care team, and with you and your family. 

  • Many of our cancer centers offer radiation oncology in the same location as medical oncology and other cancer services.
  • If you need a cancer social worker, family counseling, nutrition advice, financial aid or spiritual guidance, we offer that, too. 
  • PeaceHealth also gives you access complementary treatments to make life a little easier during radiation therapy. This may include options like yoga, nutrition classes, support groups, advanced care planning and survivorship classes.

Next steps

If you or a loved one needs radiation therapy, you have a lot to consider. Now is a time you might want extra support from friends, family — and healthcare professionals.

To learn more, contact a cancer center near you, research PeaceHealth radiation therapy specialists or visit our health information library for radiation oncology information and resources. 

All Radiation Oncology Locations