Radiation Therapy is a form of cancer treatment that works by delivering radiation to a specific area in the body.
This area is targeted to deliver radiation to the cancer or tumor site and to limit the amount of normal tissue that is exposed to radiation.
The radiation damages (breaks the instructions that allow a cancer cell to grow and reproduce) and ultimately kills the cancer cell. The goal of the radiation is to maximize the number of cancer cells killed in order to lead to a cure while limiting the number of normal cells exposed to radiation to minimize or lessen side effects.
Our radiation therapies include:
Although it’s called Gamma Knife, there is no blade or blood. Instead, it's a radiosurgical treatment that delivers a dose of gamma radiation to the target with surgical precision and is the most accepted and widely used radiosurgery treatment in the world. The Perfexion Gamma Knife offers state-of-the-art treatment for patients with a wide spectrum of brain tumors and other brain abnormalities.
Gamma Knife Radiosurgery - What you can expect before, during and after treatment.
View video (6 minutes)
SBRT (Stereotactic Body Radiosurgery)
SBRT is much like SRS (again imagine a laser pointer) except that we administer the treatment to other areas of the body other than the brain. We are able to focus this same type of SRS treatment to tumors such as lung or liver. The only real difference is that instead of patients getting their treatment all at once, in one day, we administer it over the course of three to five treatments. Again, each treatment only lasts a small amount of time, and most patients can return to their normal daily routines the same day.
How you can benefit from the stereotactic radiosurgery procedure.
View video (9 minutes)
EBRT (External Beam Radiation Therapy)
EBRT is another name for the conventional methods of treating patients with high energy x-rays, or radiation, for cancer. This means that the radiation is produced from a large machine and is administered to a patient while lying on a table. Patients do not feel the radiation, the treatment does not hurt, and once the machine is turned off, there is no radiation left in the person's body. This type of treatment typically lasts about 15 to 20 minutes.
IMRT (Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy)
IMRT is a beam of radiation (imagine a small flashlight) that allows us to focus a precise amount of radiation to deposit in an area affected with cancer and limit exposure to areas that are without cancer. It allows us to “paint” doses of radiation to various areas within the body. We can “paint” a lot of radiation to the tumor, and “paint” little radiation to the normal tissue and organs. This helps with tumor control and decrease in side effects.
This is usually done with the machine stopping at several different angles (think of angles around a circle) and treating from seven or more stops around this circle. Treatment usually takes from 20 to 30 minutes depending on the area being treated and complexity of the plan.
IGRT (Image Guided Radiation Therapy)
IGRT is another major advancement in Radiation Oncology. IGRT allows physicians the ability to take a "picture" of the cancer and its location on a daily basis, and then allow for adjustments based on that information. Patients can have physical changes which may affect the location of the tumor. By being able to visually locate the tumor daily, the physicians can make adjustments for those changes and ensure that we are targeting the cancer and minimizing the exposure to normal tissues.
HDR (High Dose Rate Brachytherapy)
(Total Run Time - 1:44)
HDR is a form of therapy that allows radiation oncologists to administer radiation within, close to, or on top of the actual cancer. This allows physicians to treat certain types of cancer with a very intense amount of radiation to a very small and internal area of the body. This type of treatment can be administered to the prostate, breast, the bronchi in the lungs, the esophagus, and the cervix, uterus, and vagina.
Our Treatment Team
- Christopher Goulet, MD
- Michelle Proper, MD (Missoula)
- John Schallenkamp, MD
- Breanne Terakedis, MD
- Pace Brittain, Manager
- Ed Slowey, Chief Physicist
- Ted Fisher, Medical Physicist (Missoula)
- Dan Lewis, Medical Physicist
- Kelsey Chisholm, Medical Physicist
- Nursing, radiation, therapy, dosimetry, and navigation staff
Care in the Region
Three of our radiation oncologists practice in Billings and provide outreach services to Sheridan, Wyoming. In addition, we have a full-time radiation oncologist in Missoula, Montana.
At any given time, our radiation oncologists have access to a variety of clinical trials for the treatment of different cancer diagnoses through our membership in the Montana Cancer Consortium, a NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP).
Patient Experience in Radiation Oncology
"The entire staff is very caring, compassionate and considerate. Every day I was greeted with a bright and cheerful smile from each and every one of the girls in the radiation department. A wonderful way to start my day! What started out to be somewhat scary became a very positive experience. Thank You!"
(Radiation Oncology patient)