Radiation Therapy and Radiation Oncology Services

Radiation therapy is a part of treatment for about two-thirds of patients with cancer. It can be used in isolation or in combination with other cancer treatments.

What is Radiation Therapy?

Radiation therapy (radiation oncology) uses energy waves or particles to cure cancer, control the disease, or help relieve its symptoms. The levels of radiation are modified according to the goal of the therapy. It can be used to destroy cancer cells, shrink cancer cells, or decrease their ability to divide.

Radiation Therapy at Brigham and Women's Hospital

The Radiation Oncology service at Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center makes use of the most advanced equipment and techniques to deliver radiation to cancerous areas, while avoiding exposure to normal tissues.

The two main radiation therapy approaches used at Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center are external radiation therapy (external beam therapy), which beams radiation directly to the cancer cells, and internal radiation therapy (brachytherapy), which involves the implantation of pellets that emit radiation. Below are examples of the external and internal radiation treatments used at DFBCC.

External Radiation Therapy

  • Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) uses computer guidance to deliver precise radiation doses to specific areas within a tumor.
  • Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) is used to treat tumors in organs that move when you breathe, like the lung or liver. This technology allows the radiation oncologist to monitor the exact tumor location and adjust for changes during treatment, minimizing radiation exposure to healthy tissues.

Internal Radiation Therapy

  • High-dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy delivers high doses of radiation in a short period of time (approximately ten minutes), with minimal risk to nearby organs. In our state-of-the-art HDR brachytherapy and operating suite, a computer-controlled tiny radioactive seed is placed inside the body near the site of the cancer. CT scanning is used to plan treatment and to guide accurate placement of the seeds during the procedure.
  • Robotic transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) guided radiation therapy involves the insertion of tiny radioactive seeds directly into the prostate gland through small needles. The radiation oncologist uses an ultrasound video image to see the prostate during treatment and to make sure that the seeds are implanted correctly. Robotic guidance is used to assist with needle navigation and accurate placement of the seeds.

Cancer Care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center is devoted to helping people fight cancer by offering the most advanced treatment with compassion and care. We care for adult patients in 12 specialized centers, each devoted to a different type of cancer.

Part of our commitment to conquering cancer is developing new ways to prevent and screen for cancer, as well as developing new therapies. Milestones include:

  • Development of the CA 125 test, the first and only biomarker for ovarian cancer;
  • Pioneered new approaches in the assessment and treatment of prostate cancer;
  • Development of state-of-the-art surgical techniques for brain surgery.

Patient- and Family-focused Care

Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) has long been committed to not only the care of our patients but also the many other needs that they and their families have. This philosophy of patient- and family-focused care - involving systems and services that emphasize healing in a comfortable, relaxed environment – is a guiding force behind the care we provide at Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center.

Quality of Patient Care

BWH is committed to providing all of our patients with the safest, highest-quality, most-satisfying care possible and follow established protocols that have been shown to improve patient outcomes. Our Inpatient Satisfaction Survey, sent to patients' to assess their total care experience, helps us to monitor what we are doing well and where we could improve. We pride ourselves in the Quality of Patient Care we provide and how we compare with other hospitals.

Brigham and Women's Hospital Cancer Team

Our Center features a multidisciplinary team of specialists, including radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, surgeons, physicists, radiologists, interventional radiologists, endoscopists, pathologists, specialized nursing staff, dietitians, physical therapists, and social workers who use a patient-focused approach to deliver the most effective treatment for each patient. Meet our radiation oncology team.

Contact Us

If you believe you should have an evaluation and would like to schedule an appointment with one of our radiation oncology experts, call 1-800-294-9999 to speak to one of our knowledgeable coordinators who can help to connect you to the doctor that best meets your needs, or fill out an online appointment request form.

Learn more about Brigham and Women's Hospital

For over a century, a leader in patient care, medical education and research, with expertise in virtually every specialty of medicine and surgery.

About BWH