Radiation Therapy

The most advanced radiation technology targets and treats cancer cells with power and precision.

About radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is often an essential part of cancer treatment. Sophisticated tools work seamlessly to treat cancer with power and precision, in many cases minimizing treatment times, rounds of treatment and side effects.

Radiation therapy works by targeting cancer cells and destroying their genetic material, killing cancer cells and stopping tumor growth. Modern radiation therapies are precise, targeting the cancer cells while protecting healthy tissue. Your care team will work with you and your family to determine the best plan of care for your condition and personal needs.

Types of radiation therapy

There are different types of radiation therapy. Depending on your unique needs, your radiation therapy will be personalized to provide optimal treatment for your condition.

External radiation therapy is used to destroy cancer. Radiation therapy can include:

  • Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) precisely targets tumors anywhere in the body, cutting down on treatment times and in five or less treatments.
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), despite its name, doesn’t involve surgery. This highly precise and focused radiation technique is typically used to target tumors in the brain, often in fewer sessions. With this treatment, high-dose radiation can be used to treat difficult tumors in the brain without the need for surgery.
  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) precisely targets tumors anywhere in the body with the ability to control the intensity and shape of the beams radiating the tumor.
  • Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) uses imaging technology that allows for precise treatment of tumors anywhere in the body.
  • Volumetric modulated arc therapy offers targeted radiation at a fast pace, typically two to three minutes, with more accuracy.

Special technology allows us to target cancer cells even as you move and breathe during treatment. Technology used during external radiation therapy include:

  • Patient monitoring system tracks patient movement during radiation and shuts down automatically if the patient’s position changes during treatment.
  • Respiratory gating technology is typically used for breast, lung and liver tumors, and synchronizes radiation timing with your breathing cycle to protect the lung and heart.

Innovative radiation therapy techniques can minimize side effects and maximize benefits during cancer treatment. These include:

  • 3D-printed skin molds that fit perfectly to a patient's body, improving the effectiveness of treatment for breast and skin cancer
  • 4D image guidance can track tumors and deliver radiation treatment while minimizing harm to healthy tissue, reducing side effects and eliminating the need for surgery in some cases

We also offer internal radiation therapy called brachytherapy. Brachytherapy can be used for various cancers, including breast cancer, skin cancer, endometrial cancer, cervical cancer and prostate cancer. Using cutting-edge techniques, radiation is temporarily placed where your cancer is located for accurate treatment. The radiation kills cells surrounding your cancer site but doesn't hurt cells in other areas of your body.

Our brachytherapy services include:

  • High-dose-rate (HDR) brachytherapy is a high-dose radiation therapy that is typically used for cervical cancer, endometrial, skin and breast cancer.
  • Prostate seed brachytherapy is the use of tiny radioactive seeds that are directly implanted into the prostate to treat early stage prostate cancer. These seeds emit radiation that works locally to destroy cancer cells over time.
  • Partial breast irradiation is a shortened radiation, two- to three-week treatment, for breast cancer after lumpectomy. It specifically targets the breast surgical bed.
  • Vaginal cuff brachytherapy is used to treat the top portion of the vagina to kill any remaining cancer cells after a hysterectomy for endometrial cancer.

We use heat therapy, called hyperthermia, which exposes the cancer cells to very high temperatures. They’re either killed or made weaker and more readily treated by radiation therapy.

Additionally, systemic radiation therapy involves injecting radioactive material into your body to treat certain types of liver cancers, thyroid cancer and prostate cancer.

What to expect from radiation treatments

Before you begin treatments, your radiation therapy team will help you prepare by determining exactly what areas of the body will receive radiation and in what dosage based on your type and stage of cancer as well as other factors, such as your overall health. Treatment times and number of treatments will be personalized for you. You’ll be awake, monitored and able to communicate throughout the treatment.

Although radiation treatments are painless, your doctor will discuss common side effects that can occur during and after your treatments. Some side effects may be short-term while others may be permanent and long-term. After your course of treatment, you may need periodic follow-up visits and imaging scans to determine the effectiveness of radiation therapy treatments.

American Society for Radiation Oncology

Accredited by the American Society for Radiation Oncology

The Radiation Oncology Centers at Lankenau Medical Center and Riddle Hospital have been accredited by the American Society for Radiation Oncology through the Accreditation Program for Excellence®. This accreditation validates a center’s excellence in delivering safe, high-quality and patient-centered care.

American College of Radiology

Accredited by the American College of Radiology

The Radiation Oncology Centers at Bryn Mawr Hospital and Paoli Hospital have been accredited by the American College of Radiology®. Achieving this accreditation demonstrates a center's commitment to quality and patient safety and to providing exceptional care.


Cancer Care

From diagnosis and throughout treatment, Main Line Health cancer specialists (oncologists) provide compassionate care for you and your loved ones through all stages of cancer treatment.