Radiation Therapy Treatment Options at USC
The USC Department of Radiation Oncology is a nationally recognized leader in radiation therapy. Our board certified physicians are considered experts in their specialty and play a leadership role in national trials for the advancement of cancer therapy and care. We offer state-of-the-art treatment options for radiation therapy, including the Accuray® CyberKnife® Robotic Radiosurgery System for stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) at USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital.
Radiation therapy uses high energy radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors by damaging the cell’s DNA, making it impossible for these cells to continue to grow and divide. The radiation directly damages the cell’s DNA, or alternatively, creates free radicals within the cell that cause damage to the DNA. Since radiation can also harm the DNA of healthy cells, the radiation oncologist must ensure that each treatment plan be devised and implemented to minimize the exposure of normal tissue during radiation therapy.
When radiation is administered to the patient by using a machine outside the patient’s body, it is referred to as external beam radiation therapy (such as 3D-CRT, IMRT, SRS or SBRT). The radiation oncologist may also treat a cancer by surgically placing a radioactive seed or other device in the patient’s body, either near the tumor or directly inside the tumor. This type of treatment is known as brachytherapy.
Depending on the type and location of the cancer, the size/shape of the tumor, the proximity of the tumor to healthy tissue, how far the radiation must travel through the patient’s body to reach the targeted tissue, and other issues relating to the patient’s medical condition, the radiation oncologist will choose the type of radiation therapy that will be most appropriate and effective in eliminating the tumor, preventing a recurrence, or relieving pain caused by the cancer.