Radiation Therapy at the Juravinski Cancer Centre
The Juravinski Cancer Centre houses a large radiation treatment program with radiation oncologists (physicians), radiation therapists, medical physicists, nurses, and a number of support staff.
Approximately 4,500 new radiation therapy cases are treated annually and over 300 patients are treated daily with new state-of-the-art radiation equipment. The department houses 11 Varian Linear Accelerators, an Orthovoltage/Superficial Unit, a High Dose-Rate Brachytherapy unit, a Conventional Simulator, and 3 CT Simulators, as well as a Treatment Planning System, Mould Room, and a Block Room.
The radiation therapy department includes an undergraduate program for Radiation Therapy with Clinical Coordinators and students. As well, the Juravinski Cancer Centre is a leader in research and clinical trials in radiation and research in practice for advanced practice radiation therapists.
How Radiation Therapy Works
Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to kill or damage malignant tumour cells. Normal cells are able to recover from radiation damage better than cancer cells. External radiation therapy treatment is given from outside your body from a machine (linear accelerator) that delivers radiation. Internal radiation therapy places radioactive sources into the tumour inside your body or as close as possible, this is called "brachytherapy".
Patients don't see or feel radiation and are not "radioactive" following treatment. In most cases, the same amount of radiation will be given each day throughout the course of the treatment plan. After treatment, patients can usually continue with normal activities although they may tire more easily.
Side Effects of Radiation Therapy
Radiation passes through healthy tissue while treating the tumour, therefore, normal cells can be damaged, which causes side effects. In general, the side effects of radiation therapy are contained to the area of treatment and are well managed.
Most patients will experience some side effects after receiving radiation therapy. A support team (radiation therapist, oncologist, nurse, nutritionist, and counsellor) are available to help patients manage these side effects. We also have a Supportive Care Department for help with nutrition, emotional, financial and practical support. Please click here to learn more about their services.
For more information, please view our virtual tour and select the Radiation Therapy chapter. Click here to play the video.