The Department of Radiation Medicine at Westchester Medical Center is a full-service radiation oncology cancer treatment center dedicated to offering the highest level of care to our cancer patients.
Radiation Medicine Services
Radiation is commonly used to safely treat cancer patients. The Radiation Medicine Department at Westchester Medical Center provides several types of radiation therapy to help treat cancer patients and some of the secondary symptoms associated with cancerous conditions. We offer expertise and knowledge in radiation oncology to ensure effective treatment for both child and adult cancer patients.
Radiation is used to destroy cancer cells or to eliminate pain by directing high energy radiation directly into cancer tumors, or "hot spots." This process destroys existing cancer cells and keeps remaining cells from reproducing. As cells die, they are removed from the body by the patient's natural waste elimination processes.
External Beam Radiation
This painless, high dose radiation treatment destroys cancer cells and is the most common type of radiation therapy associated with cancer treatment.
Conformal Radiation Therapy
This is new type of radiation therapy minimizes normal cell damage by guiding radiation beams directly into a tumor from different angles and reducing the amount of radiation which strays outside the tumor to destroy healthy tissue.
Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy
Using computerized 3-D models, radiation beams are modulated for size and angle and then focused directly into cancer tumors, delivering high doses of effective radiation to the cancer with very little damage to the surrounding area.
Brachytherapy works by putting radiation as close to cancer tumors as possible, sometimes even directly into tumors via wires, rods, or seeds comprised of iridium or iodine.
Just as the name implies, hyperthermia is heat treatment which exposes cancer tumors to high temperatures. The high heat can destroy the reproductive ability of cancer cells, and is typically delivered via ultrasound, microwaves, or laser methods.
This "knifeless" surgery is used specifically for cancerous brain tumors and involves the use of ultra-thin beams of high-dose radiation being focused directly onto the cancer growths. This technique reduces the amount of damage done to surrounding tissue.
Combining chemotherapy and radiation together can be an effective approach to treating and possibly destroying a wide variety of cancers. Our radiation and medical oncologists work closely with our surgeons to determine a customized plan of action for each patient who is prescribed chemoradiation.
As a major teaching institution affiliated with New York Medical College, our department is staffed by highly qualified physicians with expertise in various areas of oncology. Patients are cared for personally by one of the department's board certified physicians, all of whom work together as a unified team so patients may benefit from their collective experience and knowledge. Our personalized expert care is enhanced with a highly trained health team comprised of oncology nurses, medical physicists, radiation technologists (radiation therapists), social workers, nutritionists, and clinical dieticians.
Overseeing the care of each cancer patient, highly trained radiation oncologists develop and prescribe individual treatment plans, monitor radiation treatments and side effects, and ensure that each patient receives the course of treatment deemed most effective for their particular condition.
Radiation oncologists are doctors who have completed four years or more of college, four years or more of medical school, one year of general medical or surgical training, and then three to four years of residency (specialty) training in radiation oncology and additional specialty training. They have extensive training in the safe use of radiation to treat disease.
Medical Radiation Physicists
Medical physicists work directly with the doctor in treatment planning and delivery. They oversee the work of the dosimetrists and are responsible for developing and directing quality control programs for equipment and procedures and for making sure the equipment works properly.
Medical physicists have doctorates or master's degrees. Qualified physicists have completed four years of college. They also have had two to four years of graduate school and typically one to two years of clinical physics training. They may be certified by the American Board of Radiology or the American Board of Medical Physics.
Radiation Therapists/Radiation Therapy
Working directly with the radiation oncologists, radiation therapists help develop and implement individualized patient treatment plans. They implement and supervise prescribed treatments for each patient, maintain daily records and regularly check the treatment machines to make sure they are working properly.
Radiation therapists go through a two-to-four year educational program following high school. They take a special examination, and can be certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. In addition, many states require that radiation therapy technologists be licensed.
Dosimetrists carefully calculate the dose of radiation to make sure the tumor gets enough radiation. They develop a number of treatment plans that can best destroy the tumor while sparing the normal tissues, and work with the doctor and the medical physicist to choose the treatment plan that is just right for each patient.
Many dosimetrists start as radiation therapists then, with on-the-job training, become dosimetrists. Others are graduates of a one to-two-year dosimetry program following high school. The Medical Dosimetrist Certification Board certifies dosimetrists.
Radiation Oncology Nurses
Radiation therapy nurses help doctors educate patient and their families about cancer and radiation treatment, and provide resources for emotional support. Nurses assist with patient examinations by taking the blood pressure readings, weighing patients, assessing nutrition needs, etc.
Radiation therapy nurses have completed a registered nursing program, have passed a written examination and are licensed to practice professional nursing.