Radiation therapy

Your oncologist may recommend radiation therapy as part of your cancer treatment plan. At Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, you’ll benefit from superior care and a wide range of treatment options thanks to our strong focus on this form of therapy.

What’s radiation therapy?

Radiation therapy kills cancer cells using high-energy radiation that may come from:

  • Intense beam of energy, such as X-rays and protons
  • Radioactive materials placed in the body in or near tumors

This treatment lets your radiation oncologist find and carefully treat cancer with precision and accuracy, minimizing side effects and harm to healthy tissue.

Types of radiation therapy

Explore different treatments — some unique in Monterey County to Montage Health — that use radiation to destroy or shrink cancer:

  • Brachytherapy – Places radioactive pellets or “seeds” in the body temporarily or permanently
  • External beam therapy (EBT) – Treats tumors using a device called a linear accelerator that delivers high-energy X-rays or electrons
    • Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) – Lets your radiation oncologist pinpoint the exact location of a tumor before each treatment
    • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) – Gives tumors a customized dose of radiation
    • Low-energy X-ray therapy, or superficial therapy – Treats skin cancer

Advanced technology for external beam therapy

Feel confident you’re receiving treatment at one of the best places for radiation therapy in the country thanks to our focus on mastering advanced technology. Your care may involve:

  • Monaco™ treatment planning system – Computer system that determines the exact right dose of radiation that will effectively and safely treat cancer
  • Linear accelerator – Medical device that customizes the amount of energy needed during treatment to destroy tumors in any part of the body without affecting healthy tissue

Your treatment plan

You’ll receive a personalized plan developed by a multidisciplinary group of specialists and reviewed weekly. You may have one or more types of radiation therapy, as well as other cancer treatments.

You may receive imaging scans daily or weekly to make sure your treatment targets the best place on the body to treat the cancer successfully. Your radiation oncologist will review the scans.

Radiation oncology experts

Your cancer care team will include:

  • American Board of Radiology (ABR)-certified radiation oncologist – Evaluates your condition and recommends a specific treatment or combination of treatments, as well as how often and long you need treatment
  • ABR-certified medical physicist – Reviews your treatment plan and makes sure you receive the right amount of radiation to the right area of the body following safety guidelines
  • Dosimetrist – Determines the amount, or dose, of radiation you’ll receive, so it’s as safe and effective as possible
  • Radiation therapist – Performs your treatments
  • Radiation oncology nurses – Meet with you to teach you about self-care and treat any side effects

Our skilled staff takes part in continuing education and in-depth training to learn the latest best practices and technology in their field.

Focus on your experience

Find healing through unsurpassed medical care with a human touch. Count on your radiation oncology team to make your cancer journey as comfortable as possible for you and your family. Expect us to:

  • Always treat you and your loved ones with kindness and compassion
  • Listen, answer questions, and provide emotional support
  • Educate you about what to expect and the safety procedures we follow
  • Provide warm blankets during treatment sessions

Is radiation therapy safe?

Count on our staff to explain the risks and benefits of radiation therapy. Rest assured, your expertly trained team will follow the highest standards to make sure your treatment is safe and effective.

Safety measures and quality control

Our specialists perform many safety checks during your radiation sessions. Every day we treat patients, we check our machines to make sure they’re working correctly. Our medical physicist does all the monthly and annual quality tests required by the state of California and recommended by the American College of Radiology.

When you have treatment, you’ll log in with an electronic ID badge and confirm your identity and treatment plan. Benefit from our use of a computerized system that stores your plan in a database and makes sure it matches your treatment before it happens — so you have peace of mind your radiation therapy is correct, every time.

A doctor is always available in our department during treatment.

Possible side effects

During radiation treatment, rely on your care team to limit any side effects and communicate with you regularly, so we can address your concerns or symptoms as quickly as possible.

Common side effects of radiation therapy include:

  • Redness, irritation, hair loss, or skin darkening of the area getting treatment
  • Tiredness

You may also have other side effects, depending on the area of the body that receives radiation. If your treatment affects the:

  • Abdominal or pelvic area, you may have diarrhea, loss of appetite, nausea, urinary or digestive tract irritation, or sexual symptoms
  • Chest, you may experience cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat
  • Head or neck, you may have decreased thyroid gland function, dry mouth, sore throat or mouth, or thickened saliva

Some people do not experience any side effects from radiation therapy. If you do experience side effects, they’ll usually go away soon after you complete treatment.

When to call Your doctor

If you have side effects, contact your radiation oncologist for prompt diagnosis and treatment.

When you finish radiation therapy

Celebrate the end of your treatment by ringing a bell heard throughout Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula’s radiation oncology department.

You’ll see your radiation oncologist for checkups for several months after you complete therapy.

Questions after treatment

If you have questions about radiation treatments you had in the past at Community Hospital or another organization, reach out to our team at (831) 625-4630.

Schedule your orientation

Call (831) 625-4630, Ext. 2438, to make an appointment for radiation therapy orientation. During orientation, you’ll:

  • Learn about what to expect during radiation therapy
  • Get answers to your questions
  • Tour the radiation therapy area
  • Meet our staff

Awards of Excellence

The Commission on Cancer is the accrediting body for Cancer Centers in the US with programs undergoing rigorous assessment every three years.

In addition, those programs which exceed a series of higher standards pertaining to the quality of patient care are awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award, given to less that 20% of cancer programs. Community Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Center has repeatedly achieved this landmark.

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