Skip to main content

Radiation therapy

The J. Allen Knox Radiation Therapy Center combines state-of-the-art equipment and the skills of a highly qualified staff to provide each cancer patient with a safe and effective personalized treatment plan.

Wake Forest Baptist Cancer Center Radiation Oncologists provide services for targeted cancer treatments using advanced technology for the best chance of cures at the J. Allen Knox Radiation Therapy Center. Radiation Oncologists can also provide access to clinical protocol trials and monitor recovery to ensure you remain cancer free after treatment.

Equipment includes a Varian TrueBeam radiotherapy technology system, two mega voltage linear accelerators for cancer treatment, a superficial treatment machine for the treatment of skin cancer, a simulator for planning treatment fields, and a computerized treatment planning system. Service is also provided for permanent prostate seed implantation for prostate cancer.

Radiation treatments

3D conformal radiation therapy

"Three dimensional" means the treatment is based on a CT scan of the region to be treated, so we can use 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 of the disease while minimizing the radiation given to healthy tissues.

A sophisticated device (multileaf collimator) is used to block radiation from entering areas 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 healthy tissue. Some implants are temporary and some are permanent.

One form of permanent brachytherapy is permanent prostate seed implantation. Small radioactive seeds are permanently placed into the prostate gland. These seeds remain in the body after they have expended their radiation and they are no longer radioactive. The radiation oncologist will recommend the type of treatment that she believes is appropriate for each individual patient.

Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT)

IGRT is a method of using images taken immediately prior to treatment to use extreme accuracy to target a cancerous tumor.

The patient typically will undergo a 10-minute outpatient procedure in which gold markers are placed in the prostate.

Prior to radiation treatment, images are taken of the prostate and the implanted markers show up clearly, providing internal landmarks for tumor positioning.

IGRT improves the accuracy of radiation treatment delivery in its ability to perform daily imaging of the tumor. This higher degree of accuracy can enable physicians to increase the radiation dosage to the tumor, while sparing normal surrounding tissue.

Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)​

With state-of-the-art equipment to plan and deliver treatment of patients who need this cancer therapy. 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.

With IMRT, it may be possible to reduce the radiation received by healthy tissue. 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) is a treatment for the body that is a specially designed coordinate-system which is used for the exact localization of the tumors in the body in order to treat it with limited but highly precise treatment fields.

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

This specialized form of radiation involves the use of multiple radiation beam angles. Expert radiation oncologists specialized in this technique are able to safely deliver high doses of radiation, with very sharp dose gradient outside the tumor and into the surrounding normal tissue.

TrueBeam

TrueBeam is a game-changing leap in innovation in radiotherapy technology.

Cancer treatments are changing. The TrueBeam™ system is the latest advance in radiotherapy technology from Varian Medical Systems. Developed from the ground up to deliver powerful cancer treatments with pinpoint accuracy and precision, TrueBeam 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 cancers that are treatable with radiotherapy.

Treatments can be performed with unparalleled ease, precision and speed. In fact, most treatments take just a few minutes a day. As well as allowing for a more comfortable experience for patients with less time on the treatment couch, faster delivery also allows for reduced chances of patient motion during treatment.

TrueBeam was designed with many features that can improve the overall patient experience. With shorter treatment times and quieter operation, TrueBeam provides for a more comfortable environment for patients. Enhanced communication technology enables a constant interaction between the patient and the therapist who operates the equipment. Three closed-circuit television systems enable the therapist to monitor the patient at all times. Music can be played during treatment, helping to increase patient comfort.

The new TrueBeam™ system from Varian Medical Systems is an advanced radiotherapy technology for treating cancer. Opening up treatment options for people with cancer, it targets tumors with accuracy measured in millimeters. With its power and flexibility, clinicians can develop treatments that are best suited for patients' individual circumstances.

How does it work?

TrueBeam combines imaging, beam delivery and sophisticated motion management to accurately and precisely target tumors with speed.

Here are some quick facts:

  • TrueBeam rotates around the patient to deliver a prescribed radiation dose from nearly any angle.
  • An accessory called a multileaf collimator (or MLC) is what 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.
  • TrueBeam's additional functionality provides for the acquisition of a cone-beam CT, a form of CT, using 25 percent less x-ray dose than compared with earlier Varian image-guided technologies. This means patients can be exposed to fewer x-rays and less radiation.
  • Real-time imaging tools allow clinicians 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 forms of 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.

Benefits of TrueBeam

TrueBeam from Varian Medical Systems is an advanced radiotherapy system that opens up treatment options for some of the most complex cancers in areas such as the head and neck, lung, breast, abdomen and liver. The TrueBeam system's advanced imaging and powerful treatment modes allow doctors to tailor treatments specific to your particular cancer.

Treatments with Varian's TrueBeam are fast. Most can be given within just minutes a day. Treatments that once took 10 to 30 minutes can now be completed in less than two minutes. In addition to enabling a more comfortable experience for the patient with less time on the treatment couch, faster delivery also allows for reduced chances of tumor motion during treatment, which helps protect nearby healthy tissue and critical organs.

Before and at any point during a treatment, the TrueBeam system can generate the three-dimensional images used to fine-tune tumor targeting in much less time (and with fewer x-rays) than was possible with earlier Varian technologies. These images can be used to fine-tune a patient's position prior to and during the treatment process.

TrueBeam was also designed to enhance the patient experience. Thanks to an advanced communications system, the therapist running the system can be in constant contact with you. It's almost as if they are there in the treatment room with you. And as part of this enhancement, TrueBeam has a music feature, which enables music to be played during treatment.

In short:

  • TrueBeam is a powerful system that opens up treatment options for complex cancers.
  • TrueBeam is fast and precise.
  • TrueBeam was developed to address patient comfort.

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 radiotherapy (VMAR)

Technology such as Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy (VMAT) system keeps Iredell Memorial's Radiation Therapy Center on the cutting edge of cancerous tumor treatment.

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

VMAT uses photons (W-rays) generated by a medical linear accelerator. Very small beams with varying intensities are aimed at a tumor and then rotated 360 degrees around the patient. This results in attacking the target in a complete three-dimensional manner. VMAT beams can be as small as 2.5 x 5 millimeters. That's the size of a pencil tip! The idea is to deliver the maximum dose of radiation to the cancerous tumor while reducing the amount of healthy tissue affected. During the course of a single 360 rotation by our state-of-the-art Varian TrueBeam linear accelerator, a complete treatment is delivered.

At Iredell Health System's Radiation Therapy Center, our first priority is patient care. That's why we continue to offer our patients the most advanced technologies available in the treatment of their disease. VMAT technology represents another step in the fulfillment of our ongoing mission.

Our Staff

Wake Forest Baptist Cancer Center Radiation Oncologists

  • Dr. Gayla Lowery
  • Dr. Dr. Marc Leyrer

Director of Radiation Therapy

Jerry Sintay, CMD, certified by the Medical Dosimetrist Certification Board.
A CMD works to calculate the radiation dose to make sure the tumor receives the radiation dose as prescribed by the doctor. Using complex computer programs, the dosimetrist develops treatment plans that can best destroy the cancer while sparing the normal tissue. Since treatment plans are often very complex, the dosimetrist works with the radiation oncologist and physicist to develop the treatment that is best for each individual patient.

Radiologic Health Physicist

Dr. 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 performs an important role working along with the radiation oncologist, the dosimetrist, the radiation therapist and others, to assure the accurate delivery of all aspects of a treatment prescription as well as the quality assurance of all equipment involved in the planning and delivery of the treatment.

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 radiation treatments to assure 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. Clinic assistants 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.

For more information about radiation therapy and other cancer treatments, talk to your physician or call the J. Allen Knox Radiation Therapy Center at 704-878-4615.