An important treatment option for spinal tumors, radiation therapy — also called radiotherapy — hits the tumor with high-intensity radiation. It’s frequently used after surgery to eliminate any remaining cancer cells in the spine; in specific cases, it may be used instead of surgery.
The right tools — and the expertise
Roswell Park is equipped with the latest and most precise technology in radiation medicine, and our team has both the skill and the experience to use them effectively. These highly advanced, computer-assisted devices can deliver radiation more than 60% faster than conventional radiation therapy equipment:
- Varian TrueBeam Technology System: The TrueBeam machine, with a beam accuracy of 0.7 mm, is used for radiosurgery treatments on the spine.
- Trilogy Image-Guided Radiation Therapy Systems: The Trilogy is precise enough to pinpoint an area as small as one millimeter — about the width of a coarse grain of sand.
Roswell Park’s Radiation Medicine Department provides a full range of radiation treatments for spinal tumors, which include:
- Conformal 3-Dimensional Radiation Therapy (XRT): Three-dimensional (3D) conformal radiation therapy allows a precise radiation dose to be delivered to the tumor while minimizing the exposure to normal tissues. It has become the new standard in radiation therapy, combining modern imaging technology, such as computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), with state-of-the-art computer planning systems.
- Stereotactic Spinal Radiosurgery (SRS): When surgery or other radiation treatments fail, SRS may be an option for treating tumors within the spinal cord. SRS is highly precise, protecting normal function and causing fewer side effects, so it can be completed in fewer sessions over a shorter time period (usually between one and five treatments), making it a good option for radiation-resistant tumors and patients who cannot undergo surgery due to other medical conditions.
- Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT): IGRT is used on metastatic tumors of the spine and tumors that are in contact with the spinal cord. It delivers sharply focused radiation, guided by real-time images that capture the tumor’s exact shape and location.
- Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT): This advanced type of conformal radiation therapy enables the treatment team to “sculpt” the radiation beams to the shape of the tumor and to treat it from several different angles. It links treatment-planning software to the actual treatment machine, using 3-D imaging and different intensities of radiation to match the tumor’s size and shape. For tumors that are very close to critical structures, such as the spinal cord, the IMRT beam can be adjusted for greater safety.
- Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT): Roswell Park is the only facility in the state outside of New York City that can deliver radiation therapy internally, during surgery.