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Radiation Therapy

It Takes A Team

Cancer patients have a powerful ally at Community Healthcare System, where the latest technology and a broad range of radiation oncology treatment options deliver hope and quality care close to home.

We take a multidisciplinary approach. Our objective is precise: Radiate and eliminate tumors and cancer cells in a way that minimizes risk to healthy tissue and organs.

Because every moment matters, we don't only fight cancer.

We care for the whole person -- mind, body and spirit -- on your path to recovery.

You’re in Good Hands

Our Radiation Oncology team, accredited by the American College of Radiology and board certified by the American Board of Radiology, has been setting the bar and delivering the highest level of care to patients on their pathway to a cure since 1992.

With state-of-the art technologies and precision cancer treatment, Community Healthcare System specializes in all fields of cancer. We offer radiation therapies for cancers in the brain, head/neck, prostate, breast, lungs, genitourinary and gastrointestinal areas.

Hospital staff comfort a patient before an MRI to get treatment data for radiation therapy.

If your treatment plan includes radiation therapy, a highly-trained medical team will work together to offer you the best possible care: Your health team may include a radiation oncologist and radiation oncology nurse, a medical radiation physicist, a dosimetrist who helps calculate the right dose of radiation, radiation therapist or technologist, physical therapist, social worker, psychologist and nutritionist. Learn more about our oncology team

Having so many experts close to home is not only convenient, it’s a distinction to embrace: Our hospitals are recognized for cancer-fighting firsts and all the latest options in precision navigation systems for radiation therapy, so you can achieve positive outcomes with reduced side effects. Our goal is to help get you back to living your life.

High-Precision Distinction

Community Healthcare System has been a leader in the Chicago region -- and the nation -- to offer cutting-edge radiation oncology treatment options.

Since CyberKnife® at St. Catherine Hospital sent its first, non-surgical doses to patients with hard-to-reach tumor sites in 2005, our hospitals continue to lead the way in technology. Even as new, high-precision TrueBeam™  technology was placed at St. Mary Medical Center, new ground continues to be forged with Implant Radiation Therapy and other cancer treatment therapies at Community Hospital.

Our innovative service line, the most comprehensive collection in the region, includes:

  • CyberKnife,® a non-surgical procedure that delivers high doses of radiation to cancerous and benign tumors anywhere in the body, including the prostate, lung, brain, spine, liver, pancreas and kidney. A robotic radiosurgery system treats tumors once deemed inoperable or surgically complex without damage to nearby healthy tissue and organs.
  • MammoSite® Breast Cancer Targeted Therapy, a brachytherapy that delivers radiation from inside the lumpectomy site to the tissue -- a technique dramatically reducing time spent in radiation therapy. An alternative external beam radiation, MammoSite therapy occurs through a soft balloon that's inserted inside the lumpectomy cavity. Radioactive seeds are placed into the balloon through a thin catheter; normal activity resumes when the balloon is removed.
  • TrueBeam,™ an advanced radiotherapy system that monitors and compensates for tumor motion as radiation therapy is delivered with pinpoint accuracy. Its unique architecture offer a comfortable experience for the patient, and less chance for damage to critical organs and healthy tissue.
  • Trilogy,™ an imaging and treatment machine combined into one, that can target tumors in hard-to-reach spots. Its image-guided technology gets accurate images of your tumor. As Trilogy rotates around, the images continue to be portrayed, so computer-controlled "beam-shaping" can conform the radiation dose to the shape of the tumor or lesion.

What is Radiation Therapy?

Radiation Therapy uses high-energy rays to damage cancer cells, stopping them from growing and dividing. The type of radiation that you'll be prescribed depends on the type of cancer you have, and where it is in your body.

Like surgery, radiation is a local treatment affecting cancer cells in a targeted area. Radiation therapy is used to eliminate any remaining cancer cells after surgery. It can be used with hormonal treatments and/or chemotherapy.

Radiation Therapy can be given in three ways: By a machine (external); radioactive material that is implanted directly into or near a tumor (internal); or radioactive drugs that you take by mouth or put into a vein to treat such cancers as thyroid, bone and prostate cancers (systemic).

Cutting Edge Therapy

With more than half of all cancer patients today undergoing some form of radiation therapy, the Community Healthcare System is constantly on the watch for ways to offer you the best cancer-fighting technologies in the nation.

Our services include:

  • CyberKnife® for stereotactic radiosurgery treatment of tumors in the brain, spine, lung, prostate, as well as non-cancerous tumors such as the Trigeminal Neuralgia and Acoustic Neromas. 
  • External Beam Therapy, a painless treatment delivered in a series of doses, like having a regular x-ray.
  • High and Low Dose Rate Brachytherapy, a form of treatment also called "seed implantation," attacks cancer at its source, lessening risk to healthy tissue. This treatment can be effective for heart disease and for prostate, cervical and endometrial cancers.
  • Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT), a procedure that uses digital imaging to locate the tumor at the moment of treatment. IGRT is used to treat areas of the body that move, such as the lungs.In Image Guided Radiation Therapy for prostate cancer, three to five marker seeds are placed in the prostate with an On-Board Imager that accounts for any improves the accuracy of the radiation and minimizes exposure to healthy tissue.
  • Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT), a specialized method of delivering radiation to radiate the tumor with stronger doses and pinpoint accuracy. Because beams can be shaped to conform to the three-dimensional shape of the tumor, there’s less chance for radiation to reach normal tissue.
  • MammoSite Breast Cancer Targeted Therapy, where a targeted dose of radiation is administered through a balloon catheter placed into the breast where the original cancer was detected.
  • Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS), a method of radiation that uses focused beams on small and previously inaccessible tumors or lesions deep within the body. The new technology can be used to treat tumors close to critical organs where a surgeon would not want to venture.
  • Radiopharmaceutical Therapy,, such as Xofigo (Radium 223) for treatment of metastatic prostate bone cancer, and radioactive iodine for treatment of thyroid cancer.

What to Expect

Before you start your radiation therapy, you will meet with a radiation oncologist to decide if radiation is needed for your treatment plan. Your doctor will review your records, and perform an exam. Together, we'll work out a treatment plan. We'll talk about potential risks and benefits of radiation therapy, and you will have an opportunity to ask questions about the risks and intended results.

Simulation and Treatment Planning

Typically, your first radiation therapy session will be a simulation. The team uses imaging scans, such as a computed tomography (CT) scan, a magnetic resonance image (MRI) or an x-ray to direct the radiation beam to target the tumor. Depending on the area that is treated, you may get a tatoo -- a small dot to mark the spot on your skin for the precise radiation beam point. You may get an immobilizer -- tape, foam sponge, headrest, mold or cast -- to help you stay in the same position throughout each treatment. 

If you are receiving radiation to the head or neck, a special mesh mask may be used. During this time, it's important to talk about your feelings and comfort. If you feel anxious, let your doctor know. Medication may be prescribed to help you relax for the treatment planning scan and radiation therapy sessions.

During Treatment

  • External-Beam Radiation Therapy is delivered from a machine located outside your body, is quick and painless. Each session typically takes less than 15 minutes, and occurs in a series. You'll be set so only the tumor is targeted, but in some cases, radiation can affect some of the healthy tissue surrounding the targeted site. Planned pauses in treatment will help your body mend the tissue. 
  • Internal Radiation Therapy, also called Brachytherapy, is the temporary or permanent placement of radioactive sources in the body. Treatment can take place over days or weeks. If you get a permanent implant, such as for prostate cancer, you may need to take precautions to protect people close to you from exposure until the implant source loses its radiation. 

Personal Attention During and After Treatment

The radiation oncologist will watch closely for treatment side-effects and your recovery. You may feel tired, emotional and develop skin sensitivity at the site of radiation exposure. It helps to treat your skin with lotions approved by your health care team, and to keep sun exposure to a minimum. Other side effects, which may not happen right away could involve swelling of the extremities -- a condition that can trigger lymphedema -- or mood swings.

At Community Healthcare System, we are mindful to your complete recovery from the point of consultation and delivery of the radiation dose to your overall long-term well-being.

Patient Resources

Click here to view Community Healthcare System physicians who specialize in radiation oncology, or call the free physician referral line at 219-836-3477 or 1-866-836-3477.

To learn more about our technologies visit our CyberKnife®, TrueBeam™ and Trilogy™ pages. Check out our cancer treatment and infusion chemotherapy services; and the classes and support networks we offer, such as Cancer Resource Centre and the Community Cancer Research Foundation

For personal assistance to find a class or resource, call: 219-836-3477 or 1-866-836-3477. The service, which includes assistance in Spanish, is available Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For More Information

To get more information, or schedule a consultation, call:

Community Hospital
901 MacArthur Blvd.
Munster, IN
(219) 836-6390

CyberKnife® Center of St. Catherine Hospital
4321 Fir St.
East Chicago, IN

St. Mary Medical Center
1500 S. Lake Park Ave.
Hobart, IN