Radiation Oncology

Radiation Treatment Options


MedStar Health offers a variety of radiation therapies. Our centers utilize state-of-the-art technology along with sophisticated computer equipment and software to perform dosimetry calculations and treatment planning for maximum benefit and minimal doses to normal tissue. All patient treatments are customized to their specific type of cancer and situation. We offer personalized care and precision treatments.

Types of Radiation Therapy

External Beam Radiation Therapy is the most common form of local treatment, where doctors aim high-powered radiation beams directly at the tumor from outside the body. The cancer experts at the MedStar Health are skilled in using a variety of advanced external beam radiation methods to attack cancer. We will work with you to determine the treatment method that will be most beneficial for you. Learn more about the types of external beam radiation therapy.

Brachytherapy and Interstitial Therapy are treatments in which radioactive materials known as seeds or sources are placed directly inside or very near the tumor, giving a high radiation dose to the tumor while reducing the radiation exposure to adjacent healthy tissues. The radiation destroys cancer cells from inside your body. Learn more about the types of brachytherapy and interstitial therapy.

Types of External Beam Radiation Therapy

External beam radiation therapies we use include:

  • Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) uses high-quality imaging technology to create pictures of a tumor during the radiation procedure. Using these images, your radiation oncology team carefully adjusts radiation beams and doses during the procedure to best fit the size, shape, and location of the tumor, while sparing normal tissues. IGRT can integrate respiratory motion technology to track the exact position of a tumor while a patient is breathing. IGRT is primarily used for patients whose tumors are directly adjacent to critical structures when an immediately adjacent area has been previously irradiated or when dose escalation is planned and where conventional means of targeting are deemed to be inadequate.
  • Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) is a treatment method in which the strength of the radiation can be changed, or modulated, during treatment. In conventional therapy, the intensity is set for the entire treatment session. IMRT sends tiny beams, or radiation beamlets, of radiation that conform to the shape and the area of risk. This technique allows for different areas to receive different amounts of radiation, as well as help, protect healthy tissue and nearby critical organs.
  • Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT), is a single-dose radiation alternative for women with early-stage breast cancer. A standard treatment can involve five to six weeks of treatment; with IORT, a single dose is delivered in the operating room immediately following a partial mastectomy/lumpectomy.

MedStar Health is the first in Maryland to acquire the INTRABEAM® Radiotherapy System, a novel radiation platform used to deliver IORT. Unlike whole breast radiation treatment, which is administered five times per week for as many as seven weeks, patients undergoing IORT receive a targeted, single-fraction treatment immediately following tumor removal – followed by a shorter whole breast radiation course, or no additional radiation.

  • Stereotactic radiation therapy (SBRT), also called stereotactic external-beam radiation therapy and stereotaxic radiation therapy, is a type of external radiation therapy that uses imaging technology to pinpoint the location of a tumor, including its motion, and deliver very high doses of radiation directly to it without affecting surrounding healthy tissue.
  • Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS), is a non-surgical radiation therapy used to treat functional abnormalities and small tumors of the brain. It can deliver precisely-targeted radiation in fewer high-dose treatments than traditional therapy, which can help preserve healthy tissue.
  • Three-Dimensional (3D) Conformal Radiation Therapy, is a radiation therapy technique that sculpts radiation beams to the shape of a tumor. This is ideal for tumors that have irregular shapes or for those that are close to healthy tissues and organs. We view a tumor in three dimensions with the help of imaging and deliver radiation beams from several directions to the tumor.
  • Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy (VMAT), use 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.

Types of Brachytherapy and Interstitial Therapy

  • High-dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy delivers a radioactive source strategically guides the delivery of the radiation into the tumor and then removes it after the treatment session.
  • Prostate Seed implementation is a minimally invasive treatment option for men with prostate cancer. The procedure is a form of brachytherapy, in which the organ containing the tumor is implanted with radioactive material. Minuscule titanium metal capsules that produce high levels of radiation are permanently implanted. Prostate sees emit radiation to an area that is about the size of a marble.
    Radiation oncologists perform the procedure using CT scans, software programs and transrectal ultrasounds. Specialists utilize these tools to decipher the number of seeds and seed distribution required.
  • Skin Brachytherapy is electronic surface brachytherapy, or skin brachytherapy, is a form of radiation therapy that is an option for treating non – melanoma skin cancers. Electronic surface brachytherapy uses a portable machine that physicians apply through an applicator placed directly on the skin. The procedure is a painless, non-invasive alternative for those not able or willing to undergo surgical excision.