St. Joseph Cancer Center – Downtown
St. Joseph Medical Center’s Downtown Cancer Center offers the most up-to-date treatments that have been clinically shown to benefit the cancer patient. Our UTMB physicians have been recognized as experts in the latest techniques of Radiation Therapy and they support an active Radiation Oncology Residency program. The facility is equipped with two Dual Energy Varian Linear Accelerators with electron capabilities, a Philips AcQ Sim CT Simulator, and a Philips Pinnacle planning system. Our Cancer Center was the first in Houston to use a dedicated CT and the first to have the LAP laser localizers for simulating radiation treatments. Our physics and dosimetry staff are specialists in planning Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT). IMRT takes advantage of the dynamic multi-leaf collimation available on our accelerators, and it has the ability to spare normal tissue near the target area from excessive radiation. Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) is delivered using the ExacTrac 3D X-ray localization system. The Radiation Therapists use the patient’s bony landmarks or surgically placed internal markers in the target, to correct for daily variations of the location of the target organs.
In addition to the everyday precision mentioned above, we also provide Stereotactic Radiosurgery for inoperable head and neck tumors using either the head ring or the repeat fixation mask. The stereotactic treatments are delivered with sub-millimeter accuracy, therefore increasing the odds of a favorable outcome.
When Brachytherapy is indicated, we offer conventional high dose rate (HDR) treatment methods. Our medical staff was the First in Houston to offer the MammoSite balloon for HDR Partial Breast treatments. The Cancer Center sees nearly 150 new patients per year.
The medical staff is composed of board certified Radiation Oncologists and a board certified Medical Physicist. Radiation Therapists, a Certified Medical Dosimetrist, and the Oncology Nurse support the physicians and physicist in their efforts to provide the optimum treatment outcome. Our competent caring staff provides social assistance, and on-site hospital registration. Our Downtown location provides easy access from major freeways, comfortable surroundings, and convenient free parking.
Brachytherapy is the process by which radiation is introduced into a cavity that is near a tumor or the surgical bed. The radiation treatment is performed via a number of tubes connected to the machine and to a device inside that cavity. Cavities can be a uterus or a breast and sometimes treatments are given by introducing needles inserted into tissue, and then the needles are connected to the tubes. Because of the close proximity of the radioactive source to the tissues, these treatments are delivered in short courses and in weekly increments rather than daily increments. The machine is called HDR, or high dose rate, because of the radioactive source in the machine. (The source is Iridium 192.)
Partial Breast Irradiation
Partial Breast Irradiation is a technique by which we are able to treat certain types of breast tumors, with the Brachytherapy procedure. There are several trade names, such as, MammoSite, Contura and Savi, and we have capabilities to perform all of them. Partial Breast Treatment has become an acceptable treatment of early stage breast cancer. Studies have shown that there may be no advantage for treating the entire breast, when the surgical bed is the only involved area in the breast. A balloon surrounding a catheter is inserted by the surgeon into the surgical cavity of the breast. The balloon is filled with sterile saline, which acts as a means of separating the healthy tissue from the diseased cavity. The catheter is connected to the tubes used with the HDR machine, and Brachytherapy treatments are given as a short course.
Image Guided Radiation Therapy
IGRT, or Image Guided Radiation Therapy, is a process by which the daily set up of treatment is guided by radiographic imaging of the target. The target, for instance, can be a prostate gland. The gland is implanted with radiopaque seeds, which can be tracked on a daily basis by the x-ray machine attached to the linear accelerators. This procedure allows for more accurate treatments of a volume of tissue to receive high doses of radiation, while sparing normal tissues surrounding that volume.
Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy
IMRT, or Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy, is the process by which we implement those treatments of volumes to receive high doses, while sparing critical normal structures which very often have lower dose limits. We are able to change the intensity of the radiation as it travels across various densities and structures within the body, as we try to achieve the optimal doses to the cancerous targets.
SRS, or Stereotactic Radiosurgery, is the process by which we deliver one fraction of high dose to a very small target. These targets are usually inside the brain, and commonly are inoperable. This process is very involved and highly precise, because of the sensitive nature of treating a volume in one’s brain. There are many issues to consider for this type of radiation therapy, and not everyone is a candidate.
1401 St. Joseph Parkway
Susan K. Strake Building
Houston, TX 77002