Radiation and Chemotherapy

Types of Radiotherapy

Roswell Park’s Radiation Medicine Department provides a full range of radiation treatments. But the expertise of our Radiation Medicine team is as important as the technology they use, for ensuring the safety of our patients and verifying that the tumor is treated effectively. Our team includes:

  • Board-certified medical physicists, who ensure that information has been correctly transferred to the machine, that the plan matches the physician’s prescription, and that all information is consistent, understandable and well-documented.
  • Board-certified radiation oncologists — physicians who are responsible for the medically appropriate and technically correct radiation treatment of cancer patients.
  • Medical dosimetrists, who design radiation treatment plans to match the prescription ordered by the radiation oncologist.
  • Full-time, board-certified radiation therapists, who plan and deliver the prescribed radiation therapy.

Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT)

SBRT delivers very high doses of sharply focused radiation, guided by up-to-the-moment images that capture the tumor’s exact shape and location. SBRT — which can knock out radiation-resistant tumors, even in areas that have already been treated with radiation — offers a welcome alternative to patients who cannot tolerate surgery because of other medical conditions. SBRT requires a sizable team of highly specialized experts, including radiation physicists, dosimetrists and medical technicians.

Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) or 3-Dimensional Conformal Radiation Therapy

Using a device called a linear accelerator, these treatments deliver precise doses of radiation to tumors or to specific areas within the tumors. The radiation beams can be shaped to the outline of the tumor.

Chemotherapy

While some brain tumors respond to drug treatment, especially when combined with other therapies, chemotherapy choices are limited because of the blood-brain barrier, the brain’s natural defense system that prevents foreign substances — including many medications — from entering the brain.

Some patients take the chemotherapy drug temozolomide (Temodar®), usually while receiving radiation therapy at the same time. Clinical trials have shown that this combination can increase how long patients live as well as how long they live before the disease gets worse. There are a number of other chemotherapy agents utilized by our neuro-oncology team as part of an individualized treatment plan based on the specific tumor type.

Our neuro-oncologists also perform intrathecal chemotherapy, a procedure in which drugs are injected into the fluid space between the tissues covering the brain and spinal cord. This enables the drugs to get past the blood-brain barrier.