Radiation Therapy

Safe, effective radiation therapy for cancer.

Radiation therapy uses targeted radioactive energy to destroy tumors. We use radiation therapy to treat many types of cancer.

Our radiation therapy team members have developed or improved many types of radiation therapy. Our team includes radiation oncology physicians, radiation physicists, radiation biologists, radiation therapists, as well as radiation safety experts who work together to design and deliver radiation therapies for the brain, spine, and body. Our facilities are accredited by the American College of Radiology, which evaluates safety, quality control, and patient care standards for practices that offer radiation oncology care.

Precise Treatments

Henry Ford can offer lung cancer patients, like Joan Jackson, new hope in their cancer fight. We offer highly precise stereotactic radiation that targets tumors with accuracy.

radiation oncologist with patientHow does radiation therapy work?

Radiation therapy delivers radiation to tumors. We can deliver this radiation either from external sources of radiation or internal sources of radiation.

External radiation therapy uses beams of radioactive energy to destroy tumors. Some forms of external radiation therapy involve multiple lower doses delivered in several sessions. Others involve one single session of high-dose radiation, which is known as radiosurgery. Depending on your type of cancer, we can shape the radiation beam to minimize radiation exposure to healthy tissue.

Internal radiation therapy involves delivering radiation to tumors from sources inside the body. The two main types of internal radiation therapy are brachytherapy and systemic radiation therapy. In brachytherapy, we insert sources of radioactive energy into or nearby tumor sites. For example, the radioactive source may be liquid radiation held within a special type of balloon, or radioactive seeds (tiny like grains of rice). Radioactive sources are inserted into the tumor and/or nearby the site of disease for radiation treatment. Low-dose or high-dose brachytherapy treatment can be used for different types of cancer.

Why choose Henry Ford for radiation therapy and radiosurgery?

  • The collective expertise of our radiation oncologists, physicists and other team members is recognized across the nation. We are known for developing the most advanced cancer therapies, including radiosurgery.
  • Our specialists work together to continually improve patient care, the effectiveness of radiation treatment, and the safety of radiation technologies.
  • Our radiation oncology specialists are pioneers in this field and among the most experienced in the United States, using radiosurgery to treat more than 5,000 cancer patients.
  • We were the first organization in the world to develop radiosurgery to treat spinal cancer and noncancerous spinal tumors. And our radiation specialists have advanced the use of shaped beam radiosurgery and 3D conformal radiation therapy with intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) for primary and metastatic brain tumors.
  • Outstanding access and attention to each patient’s unique physical and emotional needs has earned this team placement in the top 1% in the nation for patient satisfaction, as measured by Press Ganey.
  • Radiation oncologists and physicists travel from around the world to attend our radiosurgery education seminars.

Radiation therapy near you

We offer a complete range of radiation therapies at five of our locations in southeast Michigan:

  • Using radiosurgery to destroy tumors

    cancer treatment radiosurgeryRadiosurgery, also known at stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), “removes” a tumor by delivering a high dose of radiation to a very precise area. This is a medical, not surgical treatment. Our Radiosurgery/Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) program uses the most advanced radiosurgery technology, such as shaped-beam radiosurgery, image-guided radiosurgery, and intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT). These technologies allow us to treat tumors anywhere in the brain, spine or body, including head and neck, lung, liver and pancreatic cancer.

    Patients who undergo radiosurgery treatment in the morning can return to daily activities in the afternoon. Radiosurgery often requires a single dose of treatment but in some cases may require up to five sessions.

    Our radiosurgery technology allows us to match the shape and size of the tumor from all angles, shape the radiation beam to deliver different levels of radiation intensity, and protect healthy tissue during radiation treatment. Two of the state-of-the-art systems we use in radiosurgery include:

    • The Edge® Radiosurgery System: We were the first hospital in North America to offer the Edge®, the most advanced radiosurgery treatment available. Its knife-like beam targets and treats tumors that are difficult to reach with traditional surgery. The Edge® Radiosurgery System uses a real-time tumor tracking system so clinicians can detect slight tumor movement. This minimizes the amount of radiation hitting surrounding healthy tissue.
    • TrueBeam™ Radiotherapy System: The TrueBeam™ system allows us to synchronize radiation therapy and radiosurgery treatment with the patient’s breathing patterns to compensate for motion, and provides features to deliver advanced speed and accuracy.
    • Our imaging tools track motion during treatment, so radiation targeting can be immediately adjusted if you shift by even a few millimeters. There are also tools for synchronizing treatment with your breathing patterns to compensate for motion.
  • The Edge radiosurgery system

    cancer treatment edgeWith the Edge radiosurgery system, tumors that are typically difficult to reach with traditional surgery can be targeted and treated with power and precision. The Edge system works by delivering large, targeted doses of radiation to obliterate cancer cells. To accurately deliver the recommended amount of radiation, the beam treats each part of the tumor from many different angles. Using precise beam sculpting and a real-time tracking system, we are able to deliver high radiation doses to destroy the tumor while minimizing exposure to surrounding healthy tissue. With an eye toward improving treatment ease and convenience, patients can expect a more comfortable experience because treatments with the Edge are typically completed within about 20 minutes, and most patients only need between one and five sessions.

  • What to expect during radiosurgery

    Henry Ford radiosurgery specialists design a personalized radiosurgery treatment plan for every patient. In general, radiosurgery planning and treatment involves six main steps:

    • Patient Evaluation: For radiosurgery, it is important to know how you will handle the procedure while awake. The radiosurgery physician will meet with you to discuss the radiosurgery treatment planning and procedure details.
    • Patient Positioning: Radiosurgery is an image-guided procedure. The positioning of your head and body for treatment is important. Imaging studies as well as the tumor's 3D geometry and planned radiosurgical beam entry and exit must be analyzed and planned. Because the radiosurgical beam is directed from outside the body, any patient movements must be minimized. Many positioning technologies, such as an optical device and image guiding device, are used.
    • Stereotactic Target Localization: Once your physical position is determined, the "target" for radiosurgery treatment (the tumor or other lesion) must be precisely located in relation to the surrounding normal tissue and body. This step is also called "simulation." Since the radiation calculation formula is based on computed tomography (CT) parameters, CT simulation is usually used. These images will be used for mapping of the tumor and normal tissues. 3D stereotactic parameters are obtained at this time. Some measurements are performed in relation to body positioning.
    • Radiosurgical Beam Design: This step requires sophisticated computerized calculations and 3D graphics. For a better visualization of the tumor, the CT image is fused with other images including MRI, PET, and functional imaging. The radiosurgery beam is designed using techniques of 3D beam shaping, radiation dose painting, and radiation beam intensity modulation. Beam entry and exit as well as critical structures in the path are checked. There will be a dry-run of the treatment and extensive quality assurance checks before the treatment design is finalized by the radiosurgery physician.
    • Radiosurgery Treatment: You will be brought to the radiosurgery suite for repositioning exactly the same as determined in the planning step using image-guidance and stereotactic localization parameters. The radiosurgical beam is delivered to the tumor by remote-controlled robotic movement of the radiation equipment. During this session, only you are allowed in the treatment room. Constant monitoring and motion tracking are performed. Radiosurgery does not require hospitalization. You can usually resume regular activities the same day or the following day.
    • Follow-up: Radiosurgery treatment includes regular clinical exams and imaging studies. Each patient's treatment and follow-up results are discussed at the appropriate Tumor Board at Henry Ford.
  • Radiation therapy research

    Our radiation therapy team participates in bench to bedside research to improve radiation technologies and radiation delivery systems. These innovators help make sure you have access to the latest treatment options, close to home. Our researchers are funded by the National Cancer Institute, the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group, and other sources. Ongoing research by Henry Ford Radiation Oncology includes radiation physics technology applications, radiation therapy clinical trials for many types of cancer, including gene therapies for prostate cancer, as well as clinical trials focused on reducing the side effects of therapies for breast cancer.

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Clinical Trials

Cancer Institute