Customized treatments delivered using state-of-the-art technology, to optimize outcomes while minimizing harm to healthy tissue.
Both Middlesex Health Cancer Center locations - Middletown and Westbrook - offer the most cutting-edge radiation therapy treatments available today. Advances in technology have made it increasingly possible to target your tumor while preserving the areas around the tumor, so that you experience fewer symptoms and side effects.
Our board-certified and highly experienced physicians, nurses, and Radiation Therapists create a caring, compassionate environment in which to receive treatment, and they also provide access to the Cancer Center's wide range of supportive care programs.
Technologies, Techniques, & Therapies
Radiation therapy is typically delivered one of two ways: using an external beam or by brachytherapy/seed implants, which are placed in your body to deliver radiation. Your care team may enhance your therapy with additional techniques that will increase the effectiveness and decrease the side effects of treatment.
This technique shapes the beams of radiation used in treatment to match the tumor, minimizing exposure to the surrounding healthy tissue.
The Deep Inspiration Breath-Hold Technique uses respiratory sensors to provide an extra layer of protection and safety for women diagnosed with left-sided breast cancer, because it is allows for the treatment of your tumor with reduced risk of damage to the nearby heart tissue.
How does this work?
The radiation therapy machine synchronizes with your breathing cycle during treatment. When you take a deep breath, the heart and breast tissue are further apart - this is when a beam of radiation is sent to the breast tissue. When the heart and breast tissue are closer together, the beam is turned off.
Where can I access this technology?
The Deep Inspiration Breath-Hold Technique is being used at our facilities in Middletown and Westbrook.
This method of disease management uses advanced imaging technology to continually monitor and adjust patient position prior to daily treatment for more effective, precise treatment with fewer side effects.
Middlesex Health is proud to offer two of the newest, most advanced forms of intensity-modulated radiation therapy available.
Novalis Tx® Linear Accelerator
The Middlesex Hospital Cancer Center is one of only five cancer treatment facilities in Connecticut to offer Novalis Tx® Linear Accelerator technology for IMRT therapy, which provides unprecedented accuracy in pinpointing tumors to deliver more precise, higher doses of radiation with less damage to the surrounding tissue.
Elekta Linear Accelerator
Our Shoreline Cancer Center is home to Connecticut’s newest radiation therapy machine. The Elekta Linear Accelerator includes groundbreaking technology that allows for the treatment of left-sided breast cancer while minimizing the risk of damage to the heart. This technology features the same level of power and precision as the Novalis Tx®, but it adds a key benefit for breast cancer patients: the Deep Inspiration Breath-hold Respiratory Sensor.
You can read more about the Deep Inspiration technology by clicking the link above.
This is a cutting-edge treatment option, in which radioactive seeds are implanted into the prostate gland to deliver localized, high doses of radiation to prostate tumors.
Radiation therapists often use RapidArc® image-guided technology to improve tumor targeting and increase speed in delivering IMRT and IGRT treatments.
What is SpaceOAR Hydrogel?
SpaceOAR is an injectable gel that is naturally eliminated from the body over time.
How is it used?
When injected, the gel creates about one centimeter (1/2 inch) of extra space between the prostate and the rectum, which gives the radiation oncologists more room to treat the prostate without impacting surrounding tissue.
What are the benefits of using SpaceOAR?
With SpaceOAR, patients have:
- decreased risk of rectal injury, which can lead to bleeding and diarrhea, during radiation therapy
- decreased risk of negative effects of radiation on the GI system and other surrounding tissue
- the ability to receive higher, more effective doses of radiation
Where is this technology available?
SpaceOAR Hydrogel technology is available to patients at both of our locations, in Middletown and in Westbrook.
Radiation therapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses beams of high energy particles or waves to shrink and or destroy cancer cells.
It can be used:
- before surgery to shrink tumors
- after surgery to prevent local recurrence of cancer
- as palliative care or to relieve pain caused by cancer
Radiation causes damage to the genes (DNA) of cancer cells, so that they cannot grow or divide. Over time, this cancer cell death shrinks tumors.
The radiation is delivered using a machine called a linear accelerator.
Linear accelerators are the machines that deliver external radiation therapy. They use a wave-guided device that accelerates electrons to high velocity, so that they collide with a heavy metal target to release x-rays.
The Middlesex Health Cancer Center is home to two of the most cutting-edge linear accelerators: the Novalis TX® and the Elekta. You can click on the Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) link above to learn more.
Most patients receive external beam radiation. During this type of treatment, the radiation is delivered from outside the body. Therefore, you will not be radioactive.
Simulation is the process of setting up the treatment area. This process can last up to one hour. Once all simulation work is done, your treatment plan will be developed using a special computer system.
The number of radiation treatments you need will depend on the type of cancer you have and where that cancer is located within your body. Your doctor will determine the total dose of radiation you require and divide it into daily treatments; these are given Monday through Friday. Some patients only need one treatment, while other patients may need up to 8 weeks of treatment.
Each treatment itself takes about 10 minutes. Some specialized treatments can last for 30 to 45 minutes.
During radiation treatment sessions, you will not feel the beams. Additionally, the treatment itself does not cause any pain.
Radiation therapy can cause side effects, and these may cause discomfort. Your doctor will discuss what to expect from your particular treatment, including potential side effects.
The most common side effects of radiation therapy are:
- skin reaction, similar to a sunburn
Other side effects vary, depending on the area of your body that is being treated. Your doctor will talk to you about possible side effects of your particular treatment plan.
Hair loss only occurs if there is hair in the area of your body that is being treated. If you are receiving radiation to the brain or scalp, you may experience hair loss.
Many patients can drive themselves to and from their daily treatments.
You will need someone to drive you to and from treatment if you:
- are receiving treatment to the brain
- are taking narcotic pain medications
- are taking a sedative for anxiety