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The Inova Department of Advanced Radiation Oncology and Proton Therapy offers state-of-the-art radiation oncology for all types of cancers and benign conditions. Our innovation and research in advanced radiation therapy are unparalleled in Northern Virginia, and set us apart from other health systems. We have the top Radiation Oncologists in the nation and each physician is a member of their specialized Tumor Board. Each of our patients' treatment plans is reviewed among the whole radiation oncology physician team on a weekly basis, making sure the best care plan is set.

With a focus on compassionate care, our team of elite board-certified radiation oncologists will work together with your physician to determine whether proton therapy is an option for you. You’ll also receive ongoing emotional and educational support throughout your treatment from our nurse navigators. We are dedicated to providing you the best cancer care.

Your radiation oncologist may recommend using radiation therapy to:

  • Eliminate tumors that have not spread to other parts of your body
  • Reduce the risk that cancer will return after you undergo surgery or chemotherapy by killing cancer cells that might remain
  • Shrink the tumor before surgery
  • Treat benign conditions

From diagnosis to treatment to rehabilitation, the Inova Schar Cancer Institute brings together the talents of a first-class, multidisciplinary team of physicians and advanced treatment technologies to offer you the full spectrum of cancer care.

Why Choose Inova for Your Treatment?

We know that each patient’s treatment plan is completely unique. Our comprehensive approach to your care ensures your treatment is effective and safe, and that your individual plan is personalized to your needs. Throughout your treatment, our entire care team, from board-certified physicians, to nurses, radiation therapists and social worker therapists, is dedicated to guiding you throughout this process while providing compassionate care to you when you need it most.

Advantages of Radiation Therapy

Radiation, either alone or in combination with other cancer therapies, can be used to successfully treat many different types of cancer. If your cancer can be treated with radiation therapy, your Inova radiation oncologist will discuss the details of your cancer with you, the radiation treatment options available and what to expect from your radiation treatment.

See All Radiation Treatments

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What Is Radiation Therapy?

Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy X-rays, electrons or other sources of radiation to treat diseases – usually cancer. It can also be used to treat noncancerous conditions, including blocked coronary arteries.

Radiation therapy works by damaging the genetic material within cancer cells. Once this happens, the cancer cells are not able to grow and spread. When these damaged cancer cells die, the body naturally removes them. Normal cells are also affected by radiation, but they can repair themselves in a way that cancer cells cannot. Your radiation oncologist will develop a plan to deliver the radiation to the tumor area, shielding as much surrounding normal tissue as possible.

What Is Radiation Oncology Used For?

Your radiation oncologist may recommend using radiation therapy to:

  • Eliminate tumors that have not spread to other parts of your body
  • Reduce the risk that cancer will return after you undergo surgery or chemotherapy by killing cancer cells that might remain
  • Shrink the tumor before surgery
  • Treat benign conditions

Sometimes, radiation therapy is used to reduce the symptoms caused by growing tumors and improve your quality of life. When radiation therapy is given for this purpose, it is called palliative care or palliation. In this instance, radiation therapy may be used to:

  • Shrink tumors that are harming your quality of life, such as a lung tumor that is causing problems with breathing
  • Relieve pain by reducing the size of a tumor

Is Radiation Therapy Safe?

Radiation has been used successfully to treat patients for over 100 years. In that time, many advances have been made to ensure radiation therapy is safe and effective.

Before you begin radiation therapy, your radiation oncology team will carefully design your plan to make sure you receive safe and accurate treatment. Treatment will be carefully planned to focus on the cancer while avoiding healthy organs in the area. During your treatment, members of your team check and recheck your plan through repeat imaging and radiation patient chart review. The team will meet with you each week to assess your progress and monitor any unexpected side effects that are occurring.

The medical physicist will work with the team to develop an extensive safety and quality assurance plan to make sure the correct treatment is delivered in the safest possible way, every time. Dosimetrists use advanced computerized systems to carefully measure the dose of radiation patients receive to each critical area.

Radiation therapists expertly deliver treatments using specialized protocols designed to enhance safety. Radiation oncologists oversee every step of the entire process, focusing on safe and effective treatment for every patient.

Does Radiation Therapy Make You Radioactive?

If you undergo external beam radiation therapy, you will not be radioactive after treatment ends because the radiation does not stay in your body. However, if you undergo brachytherapy, tiny radioactive seeds may be implanted into your body. Your radiation oncologist will explain any special precautions you or your family may need to take following treatment to ensure the safety of those around you.

How Does Radiation Therapy Work?

Radiation therapy can be delivered externally (using machines outside the body to direct radiation into the body), or internally (placing radioactive sources directly into body tissues or cavities, either temporarily or permanently).

Radiation therapy can be used alone or in combination with other treatment options including surgery, chemotherapy or immunotherapy.