Top 10 Cancer Treatment Centers in Colorado

top 10 cancer treatment centers in colorado

When you have cancer, finding the best cancer doctor and cancer care is extremely important. Below are the 10 best cancer treatment centers in Colorado with great doctors and many special services. It’s important to look for a program that addresses your specific needs and most importantly, makes you feel comfortable. All of the following cancer treatment centers have trained doctors and an excellent staff. 

Good Samitarian Medical Center Lafayette, Colorado

The good Samaritan Medical Center runs The Cancer Center of Colorado. The 87, 000 square foot facility specializes in cancer diagnosis and treatment. They provide cancer screening, breast cancer treatments, and have an infusion center. It is staffed by nurses trained to help administer chemotherapy. It has 15 treatment chairs and a private patient room. There is oncology rehab to help patients with side effect. They have exercise, speech therapy, massage therapy, yoga and cognitive rehab. Other services are hematology, radiation, and nutrition services. They have a skilled doctors and medical staff.

St Joseph Hospital Denver, Colorado

St Joseph Hospital Cancer Center in Denver is one of the only accredited comprehensive cancer treatment center around. They provide high quality technology and cancer research.  Staff members treat patient’s mind, body, and spirit. They have genetic testing and counseling for cancer risk, mammography screenings, medical oncology hematology, radiation, surgery, and nutrition services. The center offers several integrative services that help patients with coping with physical and mental symptoms.

Lutheran Medical Center Wheat Ridge, Colorado

Lutheran Medical Center Cancer Centers of Colorado provide early detection to the most up to date cancer treatments. They have a chemo infusion; center, radiation therapy; genetic testing and counseling, palliative care, clinical trials, screenings, and support groups.  Located on a scenic campus all services are located near each other.

Mercy Regional Medical Center Durango, Colorado

Mercy Regional Medical Center provides a wide variety of radiation therapy.  They provide radiation treatment with the Trinity Linear Accelerator a device with more precision, improved treatment times, and imaging. The center has a chemotherapy infusion center and pharmacy. They have laboratory services to perform test and surgery for cancer patients. There is genetic counseling and nutritional support for cancer patients.  They have massage therapy, dog therapy, and breast cancer prevention.

Penrose –St Francis Health Center in Colorado Spring, CO

The Penrose Cancer Center brings top notch doctors and technology to patients. It is one of the best long standing cancer programs in the United States and a pioneer in radiation oncology. They offer services for all type of cancer radiation, gynecologic, thoracic, surgical, and medical cancer treatments.  Some of the latest surgeries make this treatment center unique. They have radical robotic surgery, carbon dioxide laser surgery, and laparoscopic surgery.

UC Health Colorado Springs, Denver and Northern Colorado

US C has comprehensive cancer care for many different types of cancer. They treat blood cancers, bone cancer, brain, breast, digestive, lung, melanoma, prostate cancer, skin cancer, thyroid cancer and other types. They specialize in clinical trials and nurse navigators that help patients with advice and emotional support during cancer treatments. The centers have bone marrow transplants, chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. Their cancer centers offer many specialized tests for diagnose and treatment of cancer. One of the cancer centers is the University of Colorado Cancer Center know as one of the 45 elite cancer centers.

Rose Medical Center in Denver Colorado

The Rose Cancer Center is part of the Sarah Cannon Cancer Network.  This means that the center has access to many cancer experts across the country and new information. The Rose Cancer Center is accredited by the Commission on Cancer.  It has leading edge chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, fertility treatments for cancer patients, and surgery. They have integrative services to help patients cope with treatments massage therapy, mediation, nutrition, stress management, and yoga. The Rose Center has a breast care program for treatment and diagnose of breast cancer.

Saint Mary Hospital and Regional Grand Junction, Colorado

St Mary’s had a nationally recognized treatment program. Their specialized cancer unit has chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and nursing services. They have outpatient care for chemotherapy and radiation. The program has nurse navigators to help with physical and emotional care. The cancer center has a pathology and laboratory to quickly make a diagnosis. They have clinical trial treatments, nutrition counseling, genetic counseling, and palliative care for those that are hospitalized frequently or visit the emergency room often.

Sky Ridge Medical Center

The Sky Ridge Cancer Center uses a team approach to all treatments. They have radiation therapy program, robotic cancer treatment for prostate cancer, radio embolization for liver cancer patients, clinical trials, chemotherapy, robotic assisted surgery for women’s disorders, and nurse navigators. The resource center has latest research and information, provides wigs, scarves and hats to patients.They have a massage and exercise center. It is connected to the Sarah Cannon Cancer Network.

Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers 20 Locations In Colorado.

The Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers offer advanced treatments and specialized care in 20 locations in Colorado. They have chemotherapy, diagnostic imaging, and genetic testing to catch cancer early. The center does extensive laboratory testing to treat blood disorders. They have onsite laboratories for quick results. The Rocky Mountain Cancer Center offers radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and supportive care. There have clinical trials for patients.

These are the 10 best cancer treatment centers in Colorado. Here you will get comprehensive cancer care and support from the best cancer doctors trained to treat the many kinds that exist. 

By Joan Russell

Cancer Care: How To Support A Loved One

According to The American Cancer Society one in every three males will develop prostate cancer, and one in every 8 females will develop breast cancer. These numbers are astonishing, and should really put this terrible disease into perspective. With cancer affecting an estimated 1,685,210 people in America this year chances are we all know someone fighting this disease. While we all want to be there for our friends, family, and loved ones it can sometimes be hard to figure out what’s best for someone with cancer. Continue Reading Article >

Top 10 Cancer Treatment Centers in Florida

The sunshine state is full of sand, waves, and of course – orange trees. However, even in paradise, unfortunate diseases and conditions can occur. When disaster strikes, it is important to know where to turn to find the best cancer care. The best cancer treatment centers detailed below have been profiled by Florida-based publications or have received recognition for excellence in cancer care. When looking for the best cancer care and cancer doctors in Florida, be sure to take a look at the list below. Continue Reading Article >

Radiation Treatment Planning: How It Works

radiation treatment planning: how it works

There many different types of cancer, all with many different stages depending on location and patient. When it comes down to it, no cancer is the same, which means no treatment should be the same. Each patient should receive an individualized, unique treatment plan that caters to your needs and your body’s capabilities.

Creating A Radiation Treatment Plan

You’ll need a team, both of qualified doctors and a supportive team at home. In the treatment center, you should get to know your radiation team: the radiation oncologist, radiation oncology nurse, radiation physicist (helps design treatment plans), dosimetrist (calculates the dosage), radiation therapist (operates the machines and actually offers the treatment).

Your treatment process should start with an initial consultation followed by an informed consent process. Then, your radiation oncologist would often start with imaging to determine where you stand and what the best options are. They can evaluate the tumor, size, location, and much more. They’ll then have to stimulate you and get your body ready for radiation.

Your radiation oncologist then may suggest radiation or surgery. Radiation therapy can be used before surgery to shrink the tumor and make it more manageable or after surgery to destroy any remaining cancerous cells. Radiation may also be used to help with the side effects of cancer and manage it for as long as possible.

When it comes to external-beam therapy, which uses a large machine to beam the radiation into your body (similar to an x-ray), the first step is immobilizing your body/head to keep you still for the imaging process. Then, your radiation oncologist will mark you to determine where the radiation should be aimed. These markings are usually permanent - tiny tattoos under the skin.

Side Effects of Radiation Treatment

The side effects of radiation depend on a lot of things, like dosage and the location on your body. For example, side effects differ slightly when treating prostate cancer to lung cancer.

Patients may experience irritated skin, similar to a sunburn; fatigue; and hair loss (though this may be temporary or permanent). Some long-term side effects are possible, so talk to your doctor about follow ups, the risks specific to that area of your body, and the risks associated with each of the cancer stages.

Written by: Joanna Hynes

The Ins and Outs of Prostate Cancer & Radiation Oncology

the ins and outs of prostate cancer and radiation oncology

Radiation therapy (sometimes called radiotherapy) uses high-energy rays (or concentrated particles) to find and destroy cancer cells in a specific part of the body.

For prostate cancer, radiation therapy may be used as a primary treatment if the cancer is confined to the prostate and low grade or if the cancer has grown to nearby tissue. If the cancer is not removed completely after surgical oncology, radiation may also be used. Also, if the cancer is advanced, an oncologist may recommend radiotherapy to control the cancer for as long as possible and relieve the cancer symptoms.

How Does it Work?

There are two main types of radiotherapy clinical oncology used for prostate cancer: brachytherapy and external-beam radiation therapy. Brachytherapy is internal, injected into the cancerous area, and external-beam is, as expected, external, with beams similar to an x-ray.

What Are the Side Effects?

Side effects of radiation include fatigue, rectal irritation (like bowel urgency, discomfort, diarrhea, or frequent and uncomfortable urination), dry skin, and possible hair loss in the pelvic area. There’s a chance the hair loss may be permanent.

In some rare instances, radiation can cause impotence in men, and this typically presents itself 1-3 years after the treatment. Be sure to take necessary steps before starting treatment if you still want to start or expand your family, and keep up with your doctor’s appointments after finishing treatment.

Written by: Joanna Hynes

The Ins and Outs of Lung Cancer & Radiation Oncology

the ins and outs of lung cancer and radiation oncology

Is Radiation Oncology Right for You?

Radiation therapy (or radiotherapy) is often a primary treatment for lung cancer. It’s sometimes referred to as a palliative measure, which improves the patient’s quality of life if their disease does not respond to surgery or chemotherapy. Radiation therapy can also be used before surgery to shrink the tumor and make it more manageable or after surgery to eliminate any remaining cancerous cells. Radiation therapy can also be used if the lung cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

There are two types of lung cancer: small-cell lung cancer (typically found in current or former smokers) and non-small-cell lung cancer (grows slowly over time), and the treatment differs slightly for both.

Small-cell lung cancer is less common but more aggressive. Radiation therapy is often paired with chemotherapy to combat this type of cancer. Surgery is not used as often because it spreads so quickly.

Non-small-cell lung cancer takes a long time to spread beyond the lung, so local treatments (surgery and radiation) are typically used.

How Does Radiation Oncology Work?

There are three main types of radiation oncology for lung cancer: external beam radiation therapy,  internal radiation therapy, and systemic radiation therapy.

External beam radiation is a large machine, similar to an x-ray, that beams the radiation into a specific part of your body. The internal radiation works internally; either implants are placed close to/inside the tumor or injected through a catheter. Systemic radiation therapy is swallowed or injected into the blood to travel throughout the body.

What Are the Side Effects?

Radiation therapy can help with some of the cancer’s side effects like shortness of breath. However, there are some side effects of radiation to be aware of. Patients should be prepared for fatigue following treatments, so it’s important to get a lot of rest, as well as a possible loss of appetite.

Patients can also experience hair loss in the chest area, though there’s a chance this is only temporary. Skin irritation is fairly common (red, dry, tender, itchy - similar to a sunburn), so ask your doctor about soothing creams. Patients should avoid very hot water, perfumes, cosmetics, and deodorants. Instead, you can keep it clean with gentle soap and warm water, and use sunscreen when outside.

More serious side effects include esophagitis (inflamed tract connecting your mouth to your stomach) and radiation pneumonitis (coughing and shortness of breath), though these are less common and often clear up after treatment.

Remember, this is simply an overview as each patient should receive an individualized treatment plan. Believe in their guidance but make sure you’re open with your oncologist about your needs and how you’re feeling so they can give you the best care possible.

Written by: Joanna Hynes

The Ins and Outs of Breast Cancer & Radiation Oncology

the ins and outs of breast cancer and radiation oncology

Is it Right for You?

Radiation therapy (or radiotherapy) often follows surgery, like a lumpectomy or mastectomy. The process is meant to target cancer cells that may be left after the surgery. Radiation is very safe and very effective, which is why it is used often. However, it is never appropriate for a woman who is pregnant. Radiation is also not typically used if you have already had radiation in that area previously, if you have a connective tissue disease (for example, scleroderma or vasculitis), or if the daily commitment is too much.

Typically, the radiation treatment following a lumpectomy (tumor removal) will target the whole breast. A lumpectomy and radiation is usually recommended to patients with cancer in its early stages, a tumor that is 4 centimeters or smaller, located just on one side, and is removed with clear margins.

Mastectomies remove the entire breast, though it’s difficult to remove every cell of breast tissue. Therefore, many doctors will recommend radiation after the mastectomy to be sure there’s a smaller chance of recurrence. A mastectomy and radiation is usually recommended to patients with cancer equating 5 centimeters or larger (including one large lump or several smaller lumps), cancer invading lymph channels or blood vessels, removed tissue with a positive margin or resection, infected lymph nodes or skin. Breast cancer statistics show that radiation can help reduce the risk of recurrence by 70%.

How Does it Work?

Radiation therapy finds and kills invasive breast cancer cells, typically found near the breast and armpit area. The treatment is used to target and destroy undetectable cancer cells and reduce the risk of recurrence. There are two kinds of radiation: External Beam Breast Cancer Radiation and Internal Breast Cancer Radiation.

The external beam is the traditional way involving a large machine, similar to an x-ray. The beam targets cancer cells for 2-3 minutes and involves multiple appointments in an outpatient center.

The internal radiation is a newer treatment that injects the radiation into the affected area, so only part of the breast, typically. The doctor may use needles, wires, or a catheter to inject the radiation.

What Are the Side Effects?

According to Susan G. Komen, there are a number of radiation effects to be aware of.

In the short term, you should give your body a chance to get used to the radiation. Many patients report having subsiding symptoms as treatment goes on for a few weeks. However, in the beginning, you should be prepared for breast soreness, redness (like a sunburn), and swelling. The skin may also peel (again, like a sunburn), so talk to your doctor about a cream you can use.

While fatigue is also common, other symptoms usually associated with radiation (like nausea and hair loss) are not common with breast cancer radiation. Hair loss may occur, however, near the underarm. In breast cancer for men, hair loss may also occur on the chest.

In the long term, women may experience firmness or shrinkage to their breasts. Lymphedema (swelling due to fluid collection) is also a concern in patients who received radiation therapy to their lymph nodes.

More extreme (and unlikely) side effects include rib fractures, heart problems (which may still occur years after treatment finishes, so stay up to date with your cardiologist), radiation pneumonitis (lung inflammation), and brachial plexopathy (nerve damage in the upper chest).

Make sure you stay open and honest with your doctor about how you’re feeling and what your next steps should be. You don’t want to come off “too tough” for something that ends up growing into a bigger problem. Most of these side effects are easily managed, so let your doctor help you.

Written by: Joanna Hynes

Treating Cervical Cancer with Radiation Therapy

Cervical cancer is among the most common cancers throughout the world, but where cervical cancer screening is routine, such as the United States, it is much less common. However, thousands of people in the United States still develop cervical cancer. Luckily, cervical cancer can usually be detected very early and then prevented entirely, just be having routine Pap tests. When detected early, as most cases are, cervical cancer is one of the most successfully treated cancers. Continue Reading Article >

5 Foods That Fight Cancer

For anyone who has every cared for someone that was affected by cancer you know just how terrible this disease can be. Cancer is a broad term for a number of related diseases that affect the body in similar ways. Most cancers will begin by the body attacking healthy cells, and bad cells dividing at an elevated rate. Symptoms of cancer can range from throat sores to drowsiness though most side effects occur as a result of chemotherapy treatment. Cancer affects everyone young and old which is what makes it such a frightening disease. With recent medicine doctors have come up with foods that work to prevent cancer before it even starts. Continue Reading Article >    

Understanding Proton Therapy

Understanding proton therapy

The benefit of proton therapy is that high doses of radiation can be given while avoiding damage surrounding healthy treatment. It has fewer side effects than traditional radiation. This means that surrounding organ and tissue do not suffer damage from the treatment. It is one of the many types of treatments or a cancer cure.

How It Works

It is a superior form of radiation treatment. All body tissue is made up of molecules with atoms with a nucleus.  Orbiting the nucleus are electrons.  Proton therapy changes the characteristic of the atom and this is what causes changes in the cancer.  The ionization process destroys DNA material in the cells. It keeps them from dividing and forming new one.

Normal and cancerous cells attempt to repair the damage. Often the cancerous cells do not have the ability to successfully repair themselves. Therefore cancer cells retain more damage as a result die and do not keep growing. The therapy destroys cancer cells growing among the normal cells.  Proton therapy works on the principal of selective cell destruction.

This therapy can be distributed by the doctor in a 3 dimensional pattern with each beam used. It is easier to direct at the area being treated. As they move through the body they slow down interacting with electrons in the atoms.  As they reach the targeted point the most interaction occurs. The cancerous cells receive more damage than the healthy cells surrounding it.

The doctor has the ability to increase the dose to the tumor and not to the surrounding cells. This means more ability to shrink the tumor and less damage to surrounding tissue.  The patient experiences fewer side effects after the treatment.  The treatment is controlled by network of computers and safety systems to protect the patient.

Pencil beam technology means the proton beam is just millimeters wide. This gives the doctor and staff more control on treating the cancer patient. It is very effective in treating tumors that are complex located in the prostrate, eyes, brain, and in young children. The benefit is that an effective dosage of radiation can be delivered to even odd shaped tumors.

Tumors may be near the throat, nose, skull, tongue or tonsil. This gives them the ability to treat tumors without damaging surrounding areas.  The benefits are it targets the exact shape of the tumor with great accuracy.  It spares healthy tissue and surrounding organ damage from the radiation. It is effective in treating all stages of cancer.

Proton Therapy Requires Planning

This form of treatment does require planning. Before treatment patients will go through computerized tomography or MRI. They are put in exact position that they will be during treatment.  Their movements must be limited during the scan. They may have to wear a custom made mask for the face or piece that fits on the upper or lower body.

The piece is designed to fit snugly so there is no movement during treatment. Sometimes medication is prescribed to help patients deal with anxiety.  They draw tumor treatment areas before proceeding. The patient will be place on a table or in a chair by staff members.  Usually X-rays or CAT scans are taken before every treatment.

Some doctors’ offices have a gantry that rotates around the patient. It ensures proton waves are delivered to the tumor from best angles. Treatments last about 15 to 3 minutes long.  Some cancer patients experience fatigue and skin problems like redness, swelling and blistering.

Proton therapy is used to treat central nervous system cancer, eye cancer, head and neck cancer, lung cancer, liver cancer, prostate cancer, spinal, pelvic and brain tumors. Because it requires expensive medical equipment it is only available in a few places in the United States.  It is another cancer treatment option that patients have. 

What is radiation treatment?

What is radiation treatment?

Whether through yourself or a loved one, experiencing cancer can be extremely scary, stressful, and just difficult entirely. One thing, however, that can help a little is avoiding confusion by learning and understanding the treatment that you or your loved one will be undergoing.

There are many different types of treatment you may undergo to fight cancer, but radiation therapy is a very common treatment. So, in the case that you or your loved one is to undergo radiation therapy, here’s a guide to help you begin to understand it:

What is radiation therapy?

Radiation therapy is a treatment that uses high-energy radiation to shrink and kill cancer cells. Depending on the type of treatment an individual undergoes, the radiation is in the form of x-rays, gamma rays, and charged particles. About half of all cancer patients undergo some form of radiation treatment.

How does radiation therapy work?

Radiation therapy uses special equipment to send high doses of radiation to the cancer cells in to hopefully kill the cancer cells and prevent them from spreading. Most cells in the body grow and divide to generate new cells, but cancer cells grow and divide at a faster rate than normal cells.

Radiation works by making small breaks in the DNA sequences inside the cells. These breaks keep cancer cells from growing and dividing at the rate that they do, and often cause them to die. While nearby normal cells can also be affected by radiation, they are affected a lot less than cancer cells and most of the cells recover and return to working order soon after the treatment.

Why do patients receive radiation therapy?

Patients typically undergo radiation therapy for one of two intents:

1. Curative Intent – This is the when the radiation is expected to cure the patient of their cancer by either eliminating the tumor, preventing a cancer reoccurrence, or both. In any case, radiation therapy is often combined with other forms of treatment such as chemotherapy, surgery, or other treatment plans.

2. Palliative Intent – On the other hand, radiation therapy is also given with a palliative intent, which is simply the intention to subdue the effects and suffering of cancer, not to cure it. Palliative radiation therapy is given in cases where there’s a tumor growing, for example, on patients around their brain, spine, or esophagus.

What are the common side effects of radiation therapy?

Common side effects depend on what form of radiation therapy the patient undergoes, and the specific circumstances regarding the individual’s case, but they often include:

·       Fatigue and exhaustion

·       Skin irritation

·       Diarrhea or constipation

·       Changes in taste

·       Decreased appetite

·       Nausea, vomiting, and general sickness

·       Dry mouth, thick saliva, and dry eyes

·       Hair Loss around treated area

Do the side effects outweigh the benefits?

Radiation, of course, can be more helpful in some cases over others depending on many factors. For instance, treating certain areas might not cause too many side effects whereas other areas might cause many of the common side effects. Additionally, some cancers are more sensitive to radiation than other cancers, so it will always depend.

However, if your doctor and the oncology team recommend radiation treatment for your cancer, then it means they believe the side effects will be outweighed by the benefits. But, you always have the final say, so it helps to understand the treatments and their effects as much as possible.

At the end of the day, there will always be medical experts that will be there to help you along the way. So, don’t feel alone when it comes time to determine the best form of treatment or course of action for your case. Rather, prepare yourself to help make as informed of a decision as possible or just to relieve any extra stress that you don’t need from confusion! And, of course, never hesitate if you have questions to ask your doctor or medical care provider. 

By Russell McBurnie

6 Radiation Side Effects to Prepare For

In the case that you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with cancer, you should do whatever you might be able to do to ease the fight during radiation therapy. It's best to be prepared for the side effects of radiation, so you know how to respond adequately. Here's your radiation 101 that you've been searching for. Continue Reading Article >

The Most Common Side Effects of Chemotherapy

the most common side effects of chemotherapy

Cancer is a terrible and powerful disease affecting millions of people around the world every year. With a disease so strong it only makes sense that the medicines around to treat it are equally so. Chemotherapy is, “a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs to destroy cancer cells.” It does so by attacking only the cells in your body that divide quickly, as cancer cells divide at a much faster rate than healthy cells. While chemotherapy is used to make an individual better, it does not come free of charge, in terms of your body and your wallet.

What Causes Radiation Side Effects?

Radiation and chemotherapy affect everyone differently because all people are different but there are a few physical symptoms of cancer that are the same across the board. These include: pain, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, anemia, lymphedia, fertility and sexual effects, and an increased severity of infections. Side effects of cancer treatment are caused by the strong dosages and strength of the medicine. The dosages of the medicines are so strong that they can also damage the healthy cells located near the treated area. Because chemotherapy attacks cells that divide quickly, the medicine commonly mistakes hair and mouth tissue calls for cancer because they also divide at a faster rate. And the list of chemotherapy side effects doesn’t stop there.

Chemotherapy Side Effects

Mouth and Throat Sores

As stated above, the mouth and throat are areas that are more easily affected by chemotherapy because they are rapidly dividing cells. The chemotherapy treatment will causes painful sores called mucositis. These sores will usually form within two weeks of treatment and will go away once treatment has stopped completely. These sores can become easily infected so it is important to keep your mouth and teeth clean to help prevent this.   


While undergoing chemotherapy a patient might experience loose or watery bowel movements. Diarrhea can be a serious issue because if left untreated a person can become dehydrated very quickly.


Fatigue is describes as being tired and unable to do anything for long periods of time. Fatigue is the most common side effect of chemotherapy and can sometimes leave patients feeling depressed and helpless.


Constipation if untreated can cause an uncomfortable and stiff feeling in the lower abdomen. Drinking lots of water and eating a balanced diet while undergoing chemotherapy can lessen your chance of developing constipation.

Nervous System Effects

Nerve damage is common due to the radiation therapy. This damage can result in nerve or muscle damage including loss of balance, shaking, and weak or sore muscles. Sharp pain to the fingers and toes is also common.


Common types of pain associates with chemotherapy treatment are: headaches, muscle pain and spasms, stomach pain, and a burning sensation in the fingers and toes. Pain will usually fade over time and can be treated with medicine prescribed by your doctor.

Nausea and Vomiting

Because of the strength of the medicine, chemotherapy can cause nausea and vomiting. Depending on the type of chemotherapy received certain drugs can be taken prior to the treatment to prevent this feeling. Nausea and vomiting may also be responsible for appetite loss during chemotherapy.

Hair Loss

Hair growth happens quickly due to their quick dividing cells. Because chemotherapy is designed to attach cancer cells that reproduce quickly, hair cells are always at risk.

Once cancer treatment ends it is important to not stop caring for your body. Chemotherapy can take a lot out of a person, and care after treatment is essential. Besides daily multivitamins patients should work on low intensity exercises to get muscle movement back, eat a balanced diet, treat pain, and visit a doctor regularly. While chemotherapy comes with its negative effects, sometimes the benefits outweigh the cost.

By Maren Burns

Radiation Treatment Team: The People You’ll Meet During Treatment

Radiation Treatment Team: The People You’ll Meet During Treatment

Cancer is an extremely complicated and difficult disease to battle, which is no secret. Accordingly, treatment plans have advanced to match the level of complication, which can create confusion for the patient and their loved ones.

If you or a loved one is battling against cancer, then you already know that you don’t need any unnecessary stress in the process. Since your treatment team will likely include many members, it can be overwhelming knowing who does what and who you need to know.

So, to help a little, we’ve compiled a list of all of the people you are likely to meet during the treatment process to hopefully lessen any confusion. Here it is.

Radiation Oncologist – This is the doctor who will ultimately determine the specific type of treatment you undergo and how often you undergo it to best fit your particular circumstances. The radiation oncologist will work closely with all of the other doctors and health care workers on your health team to make these determinations.

Radiation Physicist – This individual will ensure that the equipment used in your treatments is working properly and they will make sure that the machine is delivering the correct amount of radiation for your treatment. The physicist will work closely with the radiation oncologist who planned your treatment.

Dosimetrist – Working under the direction of both the radiation oncologist and the physicist, the dosimetrist will calculate the amount of radiation to be delivered to the cancerous area and the surrounding healthy tissue.

Radiation Therapist/Radiation Therapy Technologist – Under the direct guidance of the radiation oncologist and with direction from the dosimetrist, the radiation therapy technologist is the person who actually delivers the prescribed dose of radiation.

Radiation Nurse/Oncology Nurse – This nurse will help you directly when it comes to understanding the various steps involved in your treatment and other important information about your cancer. This is also the person who will help you most when it comes to managing side effects. The nurse is most likely the individual who will guide you through setting up the visits with the other members of the health care team when needed.

Other Possible Team Members:

Physician Assistant –  The physician assistant, or PA, is a certified and licensed medical professional with a master’s or doctoral level degree. Physician assistants usually practice and prescribe the medicine on teams with doctors and other health care professionals. They may specialize in certain diseases or fields of medicine depending on their training and experience, but they usually offer a wide range of services on the team.

Dietitian – The dietitian, usually a registered dietitian (RD), is an expert in the area of nutrition, food, and diet. With a bachelor’s degree and certification from a national board exam, the dietitian will help you in areas such as weight management, exercise, and cardiac rehabilitation as well as just ensuring your general health through treatment.

Physical Therapist – Your PT, a licensed health professional who has at least a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy, will help examine, test, and treat any possible physical problems by using exercises, heat, cold, and other methods to restore and/or maintain your body’s strength, mobility, and function.

Social Worker – A social worker in these circumstances is a health professional with special training in dealing with social, emotional, and environmental problems that may come with illness or disability. Your social worker may help you people find community resources and support services while also providing counseling and guidance to help with issues such as insurance coverage, nursing home placement, and emotional distress.

At the end of the day, your treatment team will depend on a few things including where you undergo your treatment and the members of that center as well as your individual circumstances. But, regardless, you will work with a team of various medical professionals and experts similar to the list above.

These specialists will do use their different skills to help you get the best treatment they can. Additionally, despite having different specialties, do not be hesitant when it comes to asking them questions. You can always ask any one of them your different questions along the way, and if they don’t have the answer they can certainly point you in the right direction toward someone who can answer. 

By Russell McBurnie

Difference Between IMRT and IGRT

Difference Between IMRT and IGRT

Cancer is an extremely complicated disease, which makes it very difficult to battle. Fortunately, cancer treatment has come a very long way in the past 100 years or so. That isn’t to say cancer isn’t a very challenging battle anymore, though, because it certainly is.

If you or a loved one is dealing with cancer, then you are probably used to hearing acronyms with all of the abbreviated medical staff, medicines, treatment, diseases, etc. However, you are probably a lot less used to what knowing exactly what all of those acronyms stand for.

Since cancer is already such a difficult battle and a very complicated disease, you don’t need the extra stress of being confused by acronyms. There are plenty acronyms involved with cancer treatments that can be very difficult to distinguish, especially when they’re extremely similar. For instance, IMRT and IGRT are not only very similar acronyms, but they are similar forms of radiation therapy.

Although they may be similar, they are very different too, and it is extremely important to understand what makes them different from each other. If you don’t know the difference, then don’t panic – we have the answer for you right here:

IMRT = Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy previous to IMRT had one major limitation – it could only fit to a general tumor shape without conforming to the exact shape and surface of the tumor.

However, with IMRT, the computer uses a 3-D image of the malignant tumor and its irregular shape. Then, using the computer image, this mode of high-precision radiotherapy uses computer-controlled linear accelerators to deliver extremely accurate radiation doses that conforms to the tumor, or specific areas within the tumor, in a much more precise manner that previously achieved.

Additionally, by being able to control, or modulate, the intensity of the radiation beam in multiple small volumes, IMRT further allows for a precise delivery of radiation doses. Being able to modulate the intensity increases the likelihood of the doctors being able to cure the cancer as it can provide a higher dose of radiation to areas with a higher concentration of cancer cells. This also helps the doctors minimize damage to the adjacent areas with healthy tissues and organs decreasing the risks of side effects significantly.

IGRT = Image-Guided Radiation Therapy

Tumors often move between treatment sessions due to things such as breathing and changes in organ-filling. Additionally, patients tend to alter their positioning between separate treatments, which affects where the tumor is relative to the radiation beam accelerator.

While Radiation Oncologists used to only use external beam radiation therapy, like IMRT, by way of very precise mathematical location without being able to exactly see the tumor, the higher doses of concentrated radiation require that you know exactly where you’re provided the dose to. So, new technology came about that can account for this issue – IGRT.

IGRT uses Cone-Beam CT images to track the changes in the position of the tumor to more accurately pinpoint where the radiation doses should target. So, in addition to all of the benefits described when using IMRT, image-guided radiation therapy also allows Radiation Oncologists to better deliver the radiation, making the therapy more accurate, more effective, and safer than many other techniques.

At the end of the day, it is important to remember that you will be under the direct supervision and guidance of a doctor, or team of doctors, that are there to help you through the process. You will most likely meet with them at least once per week to assess your progress while undergoing a certain treatment.

It is also very important to understand not only the advantages to each treatment technique, but also to understand the risks associated with them. You can read about the side effects of IMRT or the side effects of tomotherapy (a form of IGRT), or don’t be scared to take the opportunity to let the doctor know about any possible concerns you have while undergoing a certain treatment.

Battling cancer is a very tough experience, and understanding what’s going on might help a little with the stress, which can make a huge difference – so, don’t be hesitant when it comes to asking for help! 

By Russell McBurnie

Side Effects of IMRT Treatments

Side Effects of IMRT Treatments

Cancer is an extremely complicated and problematic disease that causes an immense load of stress and suffering for millions of people and their loved ones. While cancer will always be a difficult experience to endure, understanding what you or a loved one might be going through can help a ton.

One of the specific treatments patients undergo is called intensity-modulated radiation therapy, or IMRT. Not only would it help to understand what IMRT is, it would also help a significant amount to know the side effects associated with IMRT so you can understand what you or a loved one might experience during the treatment period.

What is IMRT?

IMRT is an advanced mode of radiation therapy that uses computer-controlled liner accelerators to deliver very precise radiation doses to a certain area affected by cancer cells, a malignant tumor, or a particular section of the tumor. Additionally, IMRT controls, or modulates, the intensity of the radiation beam in multiple small volumes, which allows the dose the ability to conform more accurately to the specific shape and size of the tumor. This lessens, and sometimes even prevents, the amount of radiation that affects surrounding areas with healthy tissues and organs.

Because of the decreased levels of radiation exposed to the areas adjacent to the area that needs to be treated, there’s less of a risk for side effects to take place compared to the conventional side effects of radiation therapy.

Of course, some side effects still exist, and understanding them can be critical for best preparing for the experience of battling cancer. So, here are the common and possible side effects associated with undergoing IMRT.

Early Side Effects – depending on the area being treated and the number of treatments you undergo, some of the early side effects that you might experience are:

·       Issues with the skin including increased sensitivity, redness, irritations, rashes, swelling, blistering, peeling, itching, and dryness,

·       Tiredness, exhaustion, and general fatigue,

·       Soreness, swelling, and possible numbness in and around the treatment area,

·       Headaches, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting,

·       Suppressed appetite, eating problems, and digestion issues,

·       Hair loss in and around the treatment area,

·       Mouth problems and difficulties with swallowing,

·       Urinary problems and bladder problems,

·       And dry eyes, dry mouth, and dry throat.

Later Side Effects – also depending on the area being treated, later side effects occur months or years after the treatments and often times are permanent, but certainly rarer than early side effects. Later side effects include:

·       Changes to the brain, spinal cord, lungs, kidneys, or the colon and rectal systems,

·       Changes to the mouth and digestive system,

·       Changes to joints affected by radiation,

·       Infertility,

·       Lymphedema,

·       And in rare cases, a secondary cancer.

At the end of the day, the side effects depend on many individual factors such as your specific medical condition, your general health, other treatments you may receive during the same time frame, and how sessions of IMRT you undergo. So, each individual patient will have slightly different risks and side effects from their treatment depending on their particular circumstances.

Additionally, it is important to remember that you will be under the supervision and guidance of a doctor, or team of doctors, that are there to help you through the process. You will most likely meet with them at least once every week in order to assess your progress as you undergo your treatments, so don’t be scared to take that opportunity to tell the doctor about any possible side effects that concern you. Battling cancer is a very tough experience, and understanding what’s going on might help a little with the stress, which can make a huge difference – so, don’t be hesitant when it comes to asking for help! 

By Russell McBurnie

Side Effects of Tomotherapy Treatments

Side Effects of TomoTherapy Treatments

As cancer is such an intense, complicated, and just overall difficult disease to cure, the treatment plans have also become very intense and complicated. Among the more advanced treatments is tomotherapy, which is one of the most advanced forms of radiation therapy as well as a revolutionary way to treat cancer.

One of the major cons of typical radiation treatments is the risks of damaging the surrounding tissues. However, by combining very accurate 3-D imaging from CT scanning, or computerizing tomography (hence the name) with precisely targeted radiation beams, tomotherapy minimizes the damage done to the surrounding tissue.

Now, just because one of the major roots of the risks is minimized, it does not mean that there are no side effects from tomotherapy. Regardless of how much fewer side effects are involved, understanding what the side effects are before undergoing any procedure is a necessity, especially for a treatment as intense as radiation. So, here are the most common side effects of tomotherapy.

Side Effects:

Since less radiation reaches the healthy tissues and organs, there are certainly fewer side effects with tomotherapy radiation treatments than there are with other radiation treatments. But, it’s important to be aware of the possible side effects of radiation so you can report them to your doctor if necessary as soon as possible.

·       Early Signs of Radiation – Again, despite the increased precision of the radiation beams in tomotherapy, it is still possible to suffer from the effects of radiation reaching healthy areas in your body, so here are the signals:

o   Skin irritation and skin rashes,

o   Loss of appetite and difficulties with eating and digesting,

o   Changes in your urinary and bladder systems,

o   Dry mouth, eyes, and throat,

o   Difficulty eating and swallowing,

o   And headaches, nausea, and vomiting

Other Side Effects

Here are some other side effects on may also experience while undergoing tomotherapy:

o   Soreness, pain, and sometimes numbness in and around the treated area,

o   Diarrhea and issues associated with the bladder,

o   Hair loss in and around the treated area,

o   Light sensitivity If the treated area is in and around the face, such as the neck,

o   And general exhaustion, tiredness, and fatigue.

At the end of the day, the side effects depend on many individual factors such as your specific medical condition, your general health, other treatments you may receive during the same time frame, and how many tomotherapy sessions you undergo. So, each individual patient with have slightly different risks and side effects depending on their particular circumstances.

Additionally, it is important to remember that you will be under the direct supervision and guidance of a doctor, or team of doctors, that are there to help you through the process. You will most likely meet with them at least once per week to assess your progress while undergoing a certain treatment, so don’t be scared to take that opportunity to let the doctor know about any possible side effects that you are concerned about. Battling cancer is a very tough experience, and understanding what’s going on might help a little with the stress, which can make a huge difference – so, don’t be hesitant when it comes to asking for help! 

By Russell McBurnie

Prostate Cancer Among Top Male Cancers

As a guy, you might’ve grown up learning that you can fix a cut if you just rub some dirt in it, or that you can simply “walk it off” when you twist an ankle. Unfortunately, not everything has such easy remedies, especially when it comes to cancer. It's especially important to be aware that the most common cancer for men is prostate cancer. Continue Reading Article >

5 Cancer Resources

5 Cancer Resources

There are many variations of cancer resources, which can help patients and families make the transition and cope with the turmoil they are confronting. A cancer diagnosis is always a frightening reality to experience for a cancer patient and their family, but knowing that there are local and national resources that can help you or your loved ones ease the financial and emotional stress. Here are list of cancer resources that you may find beneficial.

1)    Financial Assistance

There are organizations, governments and businesses that assist patients, family members, and friends with the guidance needed to deal with the process of insurance companies, medical billing or settlement issues. Some well-known financial resources for cancer patients are HealthWell Foundation, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and American Cancer Society.

2)    Hospice Assistance

Hospice care will help you and your family deal with the needs, services, and care that those who are chronically ill require. Hospice care tailors its concentrations not on curing patients, but on caring for them. In the majority of situations, a patient will be provided services at home, but hospice services also operate in freestanding hospice centers, hospitals, nursing homes, and other long-term care facilities. 

3)    Emotional Support

A cancer diagnosis can terrify and strip you of everything you thought was sturdy in your life. It will make you feel alone in the world, but there are a plethora of support groups, counseling and patient-to-patient networks to help with this frightening reality.

4)    Children’s Services

There are great organizations that offer assistance and helpful services to children diagnosed with cancer, or to children who have a family member dealing with cancer. These wonderful programs will help chronically ill children and their families deal with their anguish, distress and seclusion through some productive entertainment, education, and family activities.  

5)    Transportation Assistance

Everyday there are cancer patients that need a ride to receive cancer treatment, and many of them have no way to get there. There are people called recovery volunteers who volunteer their time and cars so that patients can receive the life-saving treatment that they need. Also, many other transportation support services are offered through a variety of programs.

You can always locate additional cancer resource services in your local area by consulting your health care doctors, social workers or nurses, who will provide a stock of excellent information about cancer diagnosis and treatment programs. Dealing with cancer is a difficult time for family, friends and cancer victims, and these beneficial resources will help soften the financial and emotional strain. 

By Preston Copeland

Most Common Cancer Treated By Radiation Oncology

Radiation Oncology is a cancer treatment that uses high energy radiation to shrink tumors in the body and kill cancer cells. The types of waves used in radiation are X-ray, gamma, and charged particles. A machine is used to deliver treatment outside the body directly to the tumor. This is called external radiation therapy. There are various cancers treated by radiation oncology, but a few of the top cancers are breast cancer, lung cancer, and more. Continue Reading Article >