UConn Health’s Division of Radiation Oncology provides specialized, state-of-the-art treatments for a wide variety of malignant diseases. A radiation oncologist is a physician who specializes in radiation therapy for cancer patients and examines and reviews all X-rays and laboratory tests to decide if radiation therapy is appropriate.
Our radiation oncologists work closely with the physicians at the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center to create a custom treatment plan that may include surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy. Your medical team will consider all information and work together to create a treatment plan for your individual situation while considering your medical history, overall wellbeing, and diagnosis. This results in care that is precise, accurate, and optimizes the treatment plan for each and every patient.
All radiation oncologists are board certified and actively participate in the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center's Multidisciplinary Breast Cancer Program, the Head and Neck Cancer Program and other specialty programs.
Other members of the radiation oncology team include:
- Radiation therapists who operate the radiation treatment machines, are all licensed, are graduates from accredited programs, and receive ongoing, in-house, continuing medical education
- Radiation oncology nurses who are all registered nurses and have expertise in oncology nursing. In addition to providing expert nursing care and patient and family information, the nursing staff assures that patients gain access to a variety of needed support services, including dietitians, social services, and visiting nurses
- Dosimetrists and physicists who work closely with doctors to calibrate equipment and assist in precise dose calculations for treatment planning
Advanced Treatment and Technology
We offer many innovative programs that can be tailored to the specific type and location of the cancer to provide precise delivery of the radiation while sparing healthy surrounding tissue. Some of our treatment options are:
- CT-directed, 3D conformal radiation therapy and IMRT which provides the radiation oncology team with a sophisticated 3D view of the treatment field. This provides more detail of both tumor and surrounding tissue so the radiation dose is delivered more precisely
- High-energy, advanced linear accelerator is fully computerized for patient safety and gives the radiation oncologist the ability to maximize treatment for even the most deep-seated tumors while minimizing normal tissue damage
- Stereotactic radiotherapy and radiosurgery are often used to treat benign and malignant lesions of the brain as well as other body sites. It uses intensity-modulated conformal techniques which allows the delivery of high doses of focal radiation therapy to the treatment site with relative sparing of adjacent healthy tissue
- Brachytherapy places radiation sources in close proximity of the tumor. Radioactive isotopes are placed within the body for a period of time, and relatively high doses are delivered to the tumor while minimizing exposure to healthy tissue. This form of radiation therapy is often used with cancers of the head and neck, extremities and gynecological cancers
TomoTherapy® Only at UConn Health
We are excited to offer our patients TomoTherapy® Hi-Art® Treatment System. It is the most exciting new development in radiation oncology in a generation, and the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only site in Connecticut with this advanced technology. Unlike other therapies, TomoTherapy® acquires 3D images of tumors before every treatment and delivers precise treatments customized to the exact size and shape of the tumor. It targets large, small and multiple lesions and minimizes radiation to healthy tissue. It is one of the most sophisticated IMRT/IGRT treatment machines in clinical use today.
Unlike previous technologies that use wide bands of radiation from a limited choice of directions, TomoTherapy uses rotating narrow “pencil” beams of radiation to treat the tumor from all sides with variable intensity. This technology was made possible by a generous donation from Connecticut natives Carole and Ray Neag, who have a long history of supporting UConn Health and the university.
The TomoTherapy® Hi-Art® treatment system gives clinicians everything they need to deliver the best radiation therapy possible.
The short story.
TomoTherapy treatment teams have the unique ability to:
- Use daily CT imaging to guide treatment based on patient anatomy for that day rather than last week or last month
- Customize delivery for each patient, surrounding the target with highly-precise radiation delivered from all angles
- Minimize radiation exposure to healthy tissue
- If necessary, adapt the treatment plan at any point
The rest of the story.
For more than 80 years, radiation therapy has been used in cancer care. Through the decades, the primary challenges have remained the same:
- How can doctors be sure the beam is reaching the tumor as planned?
- How can harm to healthy tissue around the tumor be minimized?
TomoTherapy meets these challenges with precision!
360º delivery. Conventional machine design allows radiation to be delivered from only a few directions. The Hi-Art treatment system’s linear accelerator (linac) is mounted to a CT scanner-like ring gantry, or moveable framework, which means TomoTherapy treatments can be delivered continuously, from all angles around the patient. More beam directions give physicians more control in how they plan treatments and more assurance that the dose will be confined to the tumor, reducing the risk of short-term and long-term side effects.
Thousands of targeted beamlets. The Hi-Art treatment system uses a patented multi-leaf collimator (MLC) that divides the radiation beam into beamlets, all aimed at the tumor. Typically, tens of thousands of beamlets are used in a single TomoTherapy treatment session. Powerful software optimizes the contribution of each one to the total tumor dose, minimizing exposure to healthy tissue.
CTrue™ image guidance for every patient, every day™. Our unique ring gantry design facilitates a 360º delivery pattern. Perhaps even more importantly, it integrates true CT imaging that can be used on a daily basis to guide the accurate delivery of each treatment session. No other radiation therapy machine offers this seamless integration of image-guided and intensity-modulated radiation therapy. No other machine can.
How Is the Hi-Art® System Different?
A better way to deliver radiation therapy by targeting the tumor and sparing healthy tissue.
The Tomo® Process
The TomoTherapy® Hi-Art® system introduces a new, integrated way to deliver radiation treatments for cancer. The process makes it easier on clinicians and patients alike.
Before beginning a TomoTherapy treatment, the doctor uses 3D images from a combination of scanning technologies (such as CT and MRI) and special software to establish the precise contours for each treatment volume (tumor) and any regions at risk (sensitive organs or structures). The doctor then decides how much radiation the tumor should receive, as well as acceptable levels for surrounding structures. The Hi-Art treatment system calculates the appropriate pattern, position and intensity of the radiation beam to be delivered, to match the doctor’s prescription as closely as possible.
As both a treatment delivery machine and a CT scanner, the Hi-Art system allows doctors to take a CT scan just before each treatment. With the scan, they can verify the position of the tumor and, if necessary, adjust the patient’s position to help make sure radiation is directed right where it should be.
Continuous 360º treatment delivery.
The Hi-Art treatment system delivers intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) with a helical (spiral) delivery pattern. Photon radiation is produced by a linear accelerator (or linac for short), which travels in multiple circles around the patient and moves in unison with a device called a multi-leaf collimator, or MLC. Meanwhile, the couch is also moving—guiding the patient slowly through the center of the ring. Each time the linac makes a loop around the patient it directs a unique, optimized set of radiation beamlets at the tumor. Quite literally, the Tomo process runs rings around cancer!
How long will the procedure take?
On the average, the full procedure takes approximately 20 minutes from when the patient enters the treatment room until they leave. This includes approximately five minutes for the daily CT to be performed and another five minutes for treatment to be delivered (“beam-on time”). The remaining time is used for patient set-up, positioning and image registration to ensure accuracy. The actual time will vary somewhat by patient.
Why perform a CT scan every day?
CTrue™ imaging, available only from the Hi-Art® system, allows clinicians to see what they plan to treat immediately prior to beginning each treatment fraction. This is important because anatomy can change from day to day. CTrue helps ensure that the tumor will not be under-dosed and that radiation exposure to surrounding tissue will be minimized according to plan. In addition, daily CT scans can be used to adapt a treatment plan, if necessary.