Radiation Therapy

Minnesota Oncology offers patients a wide range of advanced radiation treatment services at our Maplewood Cancer Center. Our state-of-the-art external beam radiation equipment allows us to precisely target tumors with just the right dose in each session. This spares healthy surrounding tissue – maximizing results while minimizing side effects. We also offer brachytherapy treatments for some types of cancer to get the radiation closer to the tumor. The right options for each patient are chosen based on the type, location and size of the cancer.

Treatment with radiation is provided by our team of radiation oncologists, radiation therapists, dosimetrists and physicists. They work closely with the medical oncologists, surgeons and specialists from other disciplines to provide the best, most comprehensive cancer care possible.

Benefits of Radiation Therapy at Minnesota Oncology

  • Provide customized treatment with precise radiation doses
  • Lessen harm to surrounding tissue and normal cells
  • Reduced treatment times which leads to less discomfort
  • Minimize side effects

What to Expect During Radiation Therapy

Types of Radiation Therapy

External Radiation

External beam radiation therapy comes from a machine that aims radiation at your cancer. It is a local treatment, which means it treats a specific part of your body. 

Internal Radiation

Internal radiation is also called brachytherapy. A radioactive implant is put inside the body in or near the tumor which allows a higher dose of radiation in a smaller area. Brachytherapy can also be referred to as high-dose or low-dose depending on how it's used.


Available Radiation Therapies

3D Conformal Radiation Therapy

3D is a standard radiation therapy where several stationary beams are aimed at targeted areas resulting in a uniform (conformal) dosage that matches the three-dimensional shape of the tumor. 


Temporary internal radiation, or high-dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy, is performed on an outpatient basis. For a defined period of time, patients receive radiation "seeds" or "implants" that are removed before the patient goes home. Brachytherapy has been successful in treating prostate, breast, skin, cervical, uterine and vaginal cancers.

  • High Dose Rate (HDR): HDR brachytherapy is delivered on an out-patient basis and allows for a higher-than-normal dose of radiation placed in or adjacent to the tumor, with minimal risk to nearby organs. HDR treatment can be performed alone or in combination with external beam radiation therapy.

Xofigo® Therapy

Xofigo® (radium Ra 223 dichloride) is an injection of soluble radium that is processed by the body similarly to calcium and releases radiation to target and kill prostate cancer cells that have spread to bone.

Zevalin Therapy

Zevalin is a targeted cancer therapy called radioimmunotherapy that combines the use of a monoclonal antibody and a radioisotope to target and destroy specific cells. This is used to treat advanced, relapsed, malignant lymphoma.

Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)

IMRT directs hundreds of small radiation beams of varying intensities that conform to the irregular shape of tumors, limiting exposure to surrounding tissue. This type of precision therapy is often used when cancer is in close proximity to vital organs and certain body parts, such as eyes, the spinal cord, salivary glands and intestines.

Intensity Modulated Arc Therapy (IMAT)

IMAT is the use of IMRT delivered to the targeted area while the arm of the linear accelerator is in motion around the patient, resulting in multiple radiation beams being delivered to the specific tumor area more rapidly. This technology reduces treatment times by as much as 80 percent, minimizing discomfort to the patient.

Image-Guided Radiotherapy (IGRT)

Because tumors deep within the body often move between treatments, IGRT is important for precision radiation therapy. IGRT improves the delivery of sophisticated radiation treatments because it allows us to precisely locate tumors before a daily radiation treatment using advanced imaging techniques, such as CT, x-ray or ultrasound. Tumor movement can be monitored and the treatment carefully adjusted, according to the tumor location.

Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS)

SRS is a highly precise form of radiation therapy used primarily to treat tumors and other abnormalities of the brain. Despite its name, SRS is a non-surgical procedure that delivers a high dose of precisely targeted radiation to the tumor with sub-millimeter accuracy, minimizing the effect on healthy brain tissue. SRS can frequently be completed in a one-day session, although physicians may recommend multiple treatments for some tumor types.

Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy (SBRT)

SBRT is a new and rapidly evolving technique used to treat lung, spine, liver, prostate and other cancers. SBRT does for the rest of the body what Gamma Knife technology does for the brain. It delivers precise, high-dose radiation to tumors or other abnormalities in the body using 3-D treatment planning, a body-immobilizing frame and a CT scan-based IGRT. SBRT is typically delivered in fewer treatments than traditional radiation.

Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer

Radiation therapy is often a primary treatment type for men with prostate cancer. High-dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy delivers radiation directly inside the prostate. External beam radiation therapy may also be used to treat cancer from outside of the body. If you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer it's a good idea to talk to an oncologist about the right timing and types of treatments. 

Technologies Used in Radiation Therapy

TrueBeam Linear Accelerator

TrueBeam from Varian Medical Systems is an advanced radiotherapy system that opens up treatment options for some of the most complex cancers in areas such as the head and neck, lung, breast, abdomen and liver. This advanced system allows for the treatment beam to directly target a tumor from multiple angles while minimizing exposure of surrounding healthy tissues.


Imaging Technology

Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)
As leaders in radiation therapy, radiation oncologists at Minnesota Oncology are experts in the use of the latest therapies, including image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) to treat cancer. IGRT uses frequent imaging during a course of radiation therapy to improve the precision and accuracy of the delivery the radiation treatment.

In IGRT, the linear accelerators (machines that delivers radiation) are equipped with imaging technology that take pictures of the tumor immediately before or even during the time radiation is delivered.

Specialized computer software compares these images of the tumor to the images taken during the simulation to establish the treatment plan. Necessary adjustments can then be made to the patient's position and/or the radiation beams to more precisely target radiation at the cancer and avoid the healthy surrounding tissue.

Respiratory Gating Movement (RPM)
RPM uses advanced technology to track the patient’s breathing motion in reference to the location of the tumor to allow accurate and precise delivery of the radiation dose to the tumor value.