Dr. Roderick Givens oversees all radiotherapy treatments in the Greenwood Cancer Center at Greenwood Leflore Hospital. A state-of-the-art linear accelerator is available for prescribed, focused, non-surgical treatment of specific tumors under the guidance of Dr. Givens and his team of radiotherapy technicians. Each course of radiation is tailored for the patient and scheduled for the proper number of sessions. The quiet, modern cancer center is designed to maximize the patient’s comfort during their course of radiotherapy.
No matter what type of cancer you have, the basic problem is abnormal cells which are multiplying too quickly. In order to rid the body of those cells, cancer treatment is designed to destroy the abnormal tissues while doing the least possible harm to normal tissue. One common type of treatment is radiotherapy, which directs high energy radiation beams straight into the cancer region. This is usually accomplished with a machine called a linear accelerator, and the exact treatment will depend on the type, size and location of your tumor. The treatment itself is pain-free and usually takes 30 minutes or less.
Every cell in your body is controlled by DNA, the basic genetic material of life. In cancer cells, that DNA reproduces erratically and quickly, leading to tumor formation. The high energy radiation administered during radiotherapy is targeted toward those abnormal cells, ideally destroying them and shrinking or eliminating the tumor. Normal cells will also be affected, but with careful use of radiotherapy, this can be kept to a minimum.
IGRT (Image-guided radiotherapy) utilizes digital images to pinpoint the exact part of your body which should receive the treatment. Because tumors can shift and move, depending on your position, your bladder contents and other factors, IGRT is used to focus the linear accelerator’s beams squarely on the targeted region and minimize exposure of healthy tissue.
IMRT (Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy) is an advanced version of radiotherapy, incorporating 3-D imaging to shape the radiation beam. Your radiation oncologist will be able to tell you if this is a modality suited to your case.
Greenwood Leflore Hospital’s Radiation Oncologist, Roderick C. Givens, M.D. is a specialist who has spent years studying and treating cancer with radiation therapy. After studying your medical records and consulting with your physicians, he will plan the number and nature of your radiotherapy treatments. Each treatment will be administered by a registered Radiation Therapist, a medical professional specifically trained in this field. The entire radiotherapy team will work with you to be sure you understand the procedures and your part in a positive outcome.
In most cases, treatment will be given five days per week, Monday through Friday. The number of weeks varies depending on many factors, and your Radiation Oncologist will explain your unique schedule before treatment starts.
Treatment usually takes about 30 minutes, sometimes less, and are generally comfortable and relaxed. You may read, listen to music or try many different relaxation techniques which the staff might suggest. A friend or relative may come with you to the radiation therapy center, but they will need to remain in the waiting room during the actual treatment. To limit their own radiation exposure, the Radiation Therapist will also be out of the room during the treatment, but they are in contact with you at all times via closed circuit tv and an intercom system.
The actual radiotherapy treatments, except in unusual cases, are painless and produce little or no discomfort for the patient. Depending on the specific site of your tumor, you may experience some effects afterwards, which your doctor will discuss with you beforehand.
External beam radiation, which is the type administered by a linear accelerator, will not make you “radioactive” in any way. There are types of “internal radiation” or “brachytherapy” which involves implanted radiation source, and your physician will discuss precautions to take if this course is recommended during your treatment.
Most patients can go right on with their normal daily activities during their radiotherapy weeks, limited only by their general health and any limitations placed on them by their physicians. You may be asked to have someone drive you to and from your appointments, just as a precaution and as an extra source of support for you.
Unless your specific type of cancer requires dietary alterations, you can eat a normal, healthy diet during your treatments. Greenwood Leflore Hospital staff members will keep a record of your weight and discuss any concerns with your Radiation Oncologist or primary physician.