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Radiation Oncology

In keeping with our commitment to provide the highest standard of patient care and to maintain state-of-the-art capabilities, we offer many types of radiation therapy. For patients requiring external beam-type treatments we use an advanced radiotherapy system that was engineered from the ground up to perform non-invasive, image-guided radiotherapy with pinpoint accuracy and precision. It uniquely integrates advanced imaging and motion management technologies within a sophisticated new architecture that makes it possible to deliver treatments more quickly while monitoring and compensating for tumor motion. Patients who would benefit from implanted or injectable type radiation therapy will also be able to receive these treatments under the watchful care of our staff, which includes full-time board-certified physicians and physicists, oncology certified nurses, licensed therapists and medical assistants.


We provide many treatment possibilities for patients who may not have otherwise had locally available options. It allows us to improve the experience of our patients being treated for cancers that have long been amenable to treatment with radiotherapy, and also to treat some more complex cancers that are subject to motion during treatment.


We can deliver a full range of radiotherapy modalities, including stereotactic treatments (SRS, SBRT), image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT), intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), RapidArc® radiotherapy technology and Gated RapidArc—a new approach that compensates for tumor motion during a RapidArc treatment. This means we can choose the best form of treatment for each patient. We can also deliver many types of treatment fast and within a few minutes per day, offering patients greater comfort and convenience all while spending less time in the doctor’s office.


We are very excited to be offering these services to our patients locally. To schedule a tour or demonstration of our advanced system, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


Radiation Treatment

Once a diagnosis of cancer has been made, you will probably talk with your primary care physician along with several cancer specialists, such as a surgeon, a medical oncologist and a radiation oncologist. You will want to ask these doctors about all your treatment options.
In many cases, your cancer may benefit from radiation treatments. After reviewing your medical record, laboratory data and all available imaging, as well as completing a thorough patient history and physical examination, your radiation oncologist will discuss with you the potential benefits and risks of radiation therapy and answer your questions.

Radiation therapy is a treatment that can kill cancer. Radiation works by damaging the DNA or genetic material that controls cell growth. During this process, normal cells are also affected, but they can repair themselves more effectively and continue to grow. Cancer cells cannot repair themselves as easily and die.
Radiation therapy has undergone major advances in recent years. The use of computers and sophisticated equipment and a new understanding of how cancer cells work have made radiation safer than ever. Doctors are extremely careful to limit damage to healthy tissue by:

  • Precisely targeting radiation beams directly at the cancerous area
  • Dividing treatments into several small sessions called fractions
  • Making sure equipment is in top working order
  • Using the minimal effective dose

Patients usually receive external beam therapy for several weeks, with rest over the weekends. Occasionally shorter treatment lengths are offered. Receiving small frequent doses with brief rests limits damage to healthy cells, while effectively destroying cancer cells.

Our doctors use several types of radiation therapy:

External Beam Radiation: In this type of treatment, the radiation comes from a large machine outside the body. At Teton Cancer Institute, we use a linear accelerator, manufactured by Varian to produce photons and electrons for treatment. The radiation is manufactured using electricity much like an x-ray. This machine delivers radiation treatments with pinpoint accuracy.

Internal radiation (also called Brachytherapy): The radiation comes from radioactive material is put in the body or near the tumor. The radioactive source can either be implanted permanently, or placed in for a certain amount of time and then removed.

Systemic Radiation: Consists of radioactive material that travels throughout the body. It is usually delivered into the body through an IV injection. At Teton Cancer Institute, we are extremely happy that we can offer Leutathera®, Xofigo®, and other radioactive isotopes.

Radiation therapy can be used:

  • As a primary treatment to destroy cancer cells
  • In combination with other treatments to stop the growth of cancer cells
  • Before another treatment, such as surgery, to shrink a tumor
  • After another treatment to stop the growth of any remaining cancer cells
  • To relieve symptoms of advanced cancer

The type of radiation therapy used depends on many factors including: The type of cancer, the size of the tumor, and the tumor’s location in the body, how close the cancer is to normal tissues that are sensitive to radiation and how far into the body the radiation needs to travel.
Depending on your individual needs, you may receive radiation therapy alone or in combination with other treatment modalities such as; surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and/or immunotherapy. Throughout your treatment, your radiation oncologist will monitor the effectiveness of the radiation therapy and modify your treatment plan accordingly.


After careful consultation with you and your physicians, and you decide that external beam radiation is appropriate for your cancer treatments; you will undergo a process called simulation (also referred to as mapping). Using CT scans, computers, and precise measurements, this detailed process maps out the exact location where the radiation will be targeted.


When you come in for a CT simulation, you will have a CT scan of the area of your body to be treated with radiation. Every effort will be made to ensure that you are as comfortable as possible for your simulation, as the goal is to position you, in the same way, every day during your treatment. Part of this simulation involves the creation of an immobilization device that will be used for the duration of your treatments to keep you in the same position each and every time you are treated. A head or shoulder mask may be used for treatments near the head and neck. For other areas of the body, a mold called a vac-lok might be shaped around the area of interest. Marks will be placed on the mask, or on your body to serve as reference points to help our radiation therapists place you in the correct position every day to ensure your treatments are as precise as possible. Your Radiation Oncologist may give you specific instructions on how to prepare for your CT simulation.


After your simulation, the images obtained during your CT will be used to plan your treatments. A certified medical dosimetrist, a medical radiation physicist and your radiation oncologist create a specialized plan just for you, taking into account the location and size of the area to be treated as well as the normal structures surrounding the treatment in order to give the correct dose to the affected area and keep all healthy tissue to a minimal dose. Normally you will begin your radiation treatments 3-10 days after simulation. More complex treatments could take longer.


When the planning is complete, you will come in to start your radiation treatments. The first day, plan to spend approximately 30 minutes to an hour (or possibly as long as 2 hours for stereotactic treatments) in the radiation oncology department. You will be placed back in the same position using the marks given on CT simulation and using measurements from your treatment plan. Our radiation oncologists use advanced imaging before and during radiation treatment so we can closely monitor your treatments. We use highly targeted radiation technologies to deliver maximum radiation doses to tumors, with less impact on healthy tissues and organs. After we ensure that we are targeting the exact treatment area, we will deliver your radiation treatment. You should not experience any pain during your radiation treatment. In addition, it is of utmost importance that you stay still during your radiation treatment to ensure that the radiation is delivered to the correct area. Your radiation therapists will be monitoring you closely to ensure that you are holding still. Before you leave the treatment room, permanent marks, often called tattoos, will be given to help with daily alignment. Your typical daily treatment time, including the setup and imaging, is usually 10 to 20 minutes, is often longer for a stereotactic therapy.


Several common types of cancer that are treated with Radiation at Teton cancer institute include (Not a complete list):

  • Breast
  • Prostate
  • Lung
  • Tongue / Tonsil
  • Brain tumors
  • Gynecologic
  • Intestinal
  • Skin
  • Metastatic cancers
SIDE EFFECTS:

Typical radiation therapy can cause unpleasant side effects, such as skin changes, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, among others. They are usually dependent on which part of the body is being treated. Side effects typically go away when treatment is finished. During your radiation treatments, it is crucial to work closely with all of our oncology personnel to reduce side effects. During your radiation, it is important to follow good hygiene practices. Using only lotions and soaps recommended by the radiation staff, and avoid unapproved lotions or powders.


Prevention and Risk Factors:
Anything that increases your chances of getting cancer is called a risk factor. However, having a risk factor does not guarantee you will get cancer. And not having a risk factor does not guarantee you will not get cancer either.. Many factors, including things in your genes, lifestyle, and the environment around us may increase your risk of getting cancer.

Cancer prevention includes avoiding risk factors. Some risk factors for cancer can be avoided, but some cannot. Some people may get cancer even if they do not have a family history of cancer and even if they follow all recommended cancer prevention behaviors. These following suggestions can help lower your chances of developing cancer, and can also help you feel better and improve your quality of life.

  • Don’t Smoke! Tobacco products, such as cigarettes and smokeless tobacco substantially increase your risk of many types of cancer.
  • Avoid eating a lot of meats that have been smoked, preserved, salted or cured.
  • If you drink alcohol, do it in moderation. Only have one or two drinks a day if any.
  • Make time for exercise. Be active for at least 30 minutes each day.