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Radiation therapy

At the J. Allen Knox Radiation Therapy Center at Iredell Memorial Hospital, we treat cancer with the latest technology for the best chance of a cure.

Our radiation therapy department has earned accreditations from the American College of Radiology and the American College of Surgeons. We follow the highest standards set forth by these organizations.

We also do the little things, like making it easy for you to access your radiation therapy sessions by offering convenient parking close to the front door.

A highly experienced radiation therapy team

Our team includes Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist radiation oncologists Gayla Lowery, MD; Marc Leyrer, MD; Stacy Wentworth, MD; and Karen Tye, MD.

They’re supported by our highly trained staff of experts from Iredell Memorial.

Here are some of our team members who may be involved in your care:

Director of radiation therapy. Jerry Sintay, CMD, certified by the Medical Dosimetrist Certification Board.

Radiologic health physicist. James Gaiser, Ph.D, certified by the American Board of Radiology.

A radiation oncology physicist brings a unique perspective to the clinical team—that of a scientist trained in physics, including radiological physics, and also in clinical, basic medical and radiobiological sciences. The physicist works along with the radiation oncologist, the dosimetrist, the radiation therapist and others to ensure the accurate delivery of all aspects of a treatment prescription, as well as the quality assurance of equipment.

Dosimetrists. A certified medical dosimetrist (CMD) calculates the radiation dose to make sure the tumor receives the exact dose prescribed by the doctor. Using complex computer programs, the dosimetrist develops treatment plans that can best destroy the cancer while sparing nearby healthy tissue. Since treatment plans are often complex, the dosimetrist works with the radiation oncologist and physicist to develop the treatment that is best for each individual patient.

Radiation therapists. Radiation therapists administer the daily radiation treatments under the radiation oncologist's prescription and supervision. They maintain records of the treatments and monitor the treatment machines during the treatments to ensure that they are working properly.

Radiation therapists are certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.

Clinic assistants. Clinic assistants schedule and register patients for the radiation therapy consultation with the radiation oncologists. They also acquire the patient’s medical records and interview the patient to collect their medical history data for assessment by the radiation oncologist. A clinic assistant assists the radiation oncologist during patient examinations.

Advanced radiation treatments

We’re proud to offer you the latest advancements in technology, including targeted treatments. These treatments use precise radiation beams designed to spare healthy tissues and limit side effects.

Our treatments include:

3D conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT)

Three dimensional means the treatment is based on a CT scan of the treatment area and uses computer software to determine how the patient will appear from any desired direction. This lets the radiation therapy team choose optimal approaches for the radiation beams.

Conformal means that the beams are custom-shaped to maximize the treatment while minimizing the amount of radiation healthy tissues receive.

A sophisticated device (multileaf collimator) is used to block radiation from entering areas of the body that need protection.

Brachytherapy (radioactive seed implants)

Brachytherapy, which has been available at the J. Allen Knox Radiation Therapy Center since 1998, involves placing radioactive sources directly into, or adjacent to, a tumor or surrounding tissue. With these sources placed, or implanted, into the tumor, the radiation oncologist can deliver a large dose of radiation to the tumor while minimizing the dose to nearby healthy tissue. Some implants are temporary, and some are permanent.

One form of permanent brachytherapy is permanent prostate seed implantation. Small radioactive seeds are placed in the prostate gland. These seeds remain in the body after they have released their radiation and are no longer radioactive.

Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT)

IGRT uses images taken immediately before treatment to target a cancerous tumor with extreme accuracy. This higher degree of accuracy enables physicians to increase the radiation dosage to the tumor while sparing normal surrounding tissue.

Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)

IMRT is the most precise form of radiation therapy available. It allows physicians to escalate the radiation dose to cancer cells while keeping the dose to surrounding tissues as low as possible. IMRT is a more precise and highly sophisticated form of 3D-CRT. With IMRT, the radiation beam can be broken up into many beamlets, and the intensity of each beamlet can be adjusted. In some cases, a higher dose may be delivered to the tumor, increasing the chance of a cure.

Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT)

Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) involves the delivery of a single high-dose radiation treatment or a few fractionated radiation treatments—meaning the treatments are split into a number of treatments, usually up to five. A high-potent biological dose of radiation is delivered to the tumor, improving the cure rates for the cancer, in a manner previously not achievable by standard conventional radiation therapy.

TrueBeam

TrueBeam is a game-changing leap in innovation in radiotherapy technology. This powerful system opens the door to new possibilities for the treatment of challenging cases such as cancers in the lung, breast, abdomen, and head and neck, as well as other areas of the body. TrueBeam is fast and precise (it targets tumors with accuracy measured in millimeters), and it was designed to address patient comfort.

Developed from the ground up to deliver powerful cancer treatments with pinpoint precision, TrueBeam can be performed with unparalleled ease and speed. For instance, treatments that once took 10 to 30 minutes can now be completed in less than two minutes.

TrueBeam’s many features can improve the overall patient experience. For example, in addition to shorter treatment times and quieter operation, music can be played during treatment.

Quick facts about how TrueBeam works:

  • TrueBeam rotates around the patient to deliver a prescribed radiation dose from nearly any angle.
  • An accessory called a multileaf collimator (or MLC) shapes the beam. It has 120 computer-controlled leaves or fingers that create apertures of different shapes and sizes. The leaves sculpt the beam to match the 3D shape of the tumor. These can move and change during treatment to target the tumor and minimize dose to the surrounding healthy tissue.
  • Real-time imaging tools allow our radiation therapy team to see the tumor they are about to treat. This gives them confidence, and they can target tumors with accuracy measured in millimeters.
  • TrueBeam can be used for many advanced treatment techniques, including image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT), intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) and RapidArc® radiotherapy technology. Because of this, patients can receive the treatment that is best suited for their specific clinical circumstances.

TrueBeam radiotherapy is not appropriate for all cancers. Serious side effects, including fatigue and skin irritation, can occur. Treatment times may vary. Ask your doctor if TrueBeam treatment is right for you.

Volumetric-modulated arc therapy (VMAT)

Technology such as VMAT keeps Iredell Memorial on the cutting edge of cancer treatment.

The main advantages of VMAT are precision and speed. VMAT focuses the radiation on the tumor while protecting healthy tissues, and treatment is completed in less than two minutes. Faster treatments improve the accuracy of radiation delivery while improving patient convenience and quality of life.

VMAT aims very small beams with varying intensities at a tumor and then rotates them 360 degrees around the patient. This results in attacking the target in a complete three-dimensional manner. VMAT beams can be as small as a pencil tip!

Special breast procedures

We take steps to make your radiation therapy safer, including these techniques used during breast cancer treatments.

Deep inspiration breath hold. This technique helps reduce radiation exposure to the heart. During treatment, you take a deep breath and hold it for several seconds. This helps pull the heart away from your breast and the radiation.

Prone breast treatment. For this technique, you lie face down on a special table during radiation treatments. The breast that receives the radiation hangs away from the body, minimizing exposure to the heart and chest, thereby decreasing the risk of side effects now and in the future.

Make an appointment at our radiation therapy center

If you would like to receive your radiation therapy treatments here, please ask your physician for a referral to the J. Allen Knox Radiation Therapy Center.

To make an appointment or learn more about our services, call 704.878.4615.