Expert Radiation Oncology

Two doctors examine a cancer patient's scan to discuss treatment options.

Comprehensive Services | Expert Staff | Advanced Technology

At Thompson Cancer Survival Center, we believe comprehensive cancer care should be available in the comfort of your own community. Our team of radiation therapy experts uses a multidisciplinary approach with the latest technology and treatment methods to develop a customized treatment plan for each patient. Thank you for allowing us to care for you.

The Covenant Health Radiation Therapy Network is one of the largest and most advanced providers of radiotherapy in the region. Each of Covenant Health’s six radiation therapy departments has a team of experts that provide personalized and compassionate cancer care. Each location is equipped with the most advanced technology that can precisely focus radiation on the tumor.

Radiation therapy is used in the treatment of more than 60% of all cancer patients. It may be used alone or in combination with surgery and/or chemotherapy. There are three forms of radiation therapy, all of which are offered by the Covenant Health Radiation Therapy Network.

  • External Beam Radiation Therapy is when the radiation is delivered from outside of the body and focuses on the tumor.
  • Internal Radiation Therapy (called brachytherapy) is when the radiation is placed inside the body and the radiation is delivered from inside the body.
  • Systemic Radiation Therapy is when the radiation is given as an injection and goes through the whole body.

Our goal is to provide you with the most compassionate, high quality, and innovative cancer care available while being close to your home and family. Please click on one of the Cancer Survivor Ribbons above to learn more about our treatment options.

What is Radiation Oncology?

Radiation therapy, also known as radiation oncology,  is used in treating >60% of cancer. It is a medical specialty that uses high-energy radiation to treat cancer, and it is often used in conjunction with other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and surgery, to help shrink or eliminate cancerous tumors. Radiation oncologists are trained physicians who specialize in using radiation to treat cancer. They work closely with other members of a patient’s medical team, including surgeons and medical oncologists, to develop a personalized treatment plan.

During radiation therapy, high-energy radiation is directed at the cancerous cells in the patient’s body. The radiation damages the DNA of the cancer cells, causing them to die or stop multiplying. Normal cells may also be affected by radiation, but they are typically better able to recover from the damage than cancer cells.

Radiation therapy can be delivered in several ways, including external beam radiation, internal radiation (brachytherapy), and systemic radiation. Treatment choice depends on several factors, such as the location and stage of cancer, the patient’s health, and the desired outcome. It can cause side effects, such as fatigue, skin irritation, and nausea, but these are typically temporary and can be managed with medication and lifestyle adjustments.

Overall, radiation oncology plays an important role in cancer treatment and can help improve patients’ quality of life and chances of survival.

Types of Radiation Oncology

As mentioned above, there are three main radiation oncology methods. At Thompson Cancer Survival Center, our goal is to provide you with the highest quality care, and we do this through the following methods.

Image Guided Radiation Therapy

Image guided radiation therapy (IGRT) is a technique where CT images are taken on the treatment machine immediately before treatment, and sometimes even during the treatment itself. These images are used to help align the patient for treatment, and to make sure that the radiation beams are focused on the cancer.

Without CT imaging, the tumor could be missed and a larger portion of healthy tissue could be treated. Image guidance helps make sure that the cancer is on target for every treatment. Covenant’s staff pioneered CT-based image guidance and were the first in the United States to use megavoltage CT image guidance.

Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy

Thompson Cancer Survival Center was one of the first facilities in the world to treat patients with Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy.  This technique uses hundreds to thousands of tiny radiation beams that converge on the cancer site. Each beam’s strength, or intensity, is precisely adjusted according to the personalized treatment plan. The radiation is shaped around the cancer from all angles, to maximize impact on the cancer while minimizing the effect on surrounding healthy tissue. IMRT is combined with daily CT Image Guidance to ensure that the radiation is precisely focused on the cancer. IMRT is often used to treat cancers of the pancreas, esophagus, pelvis, rectum, prostate, lung, head & neck, and brain.

Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy

Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) is a treatment approach that delivers the treatment in 2 to 5 treatment sessions. SBRT uses a higher daily dose of radiation than conventional three (3D) dimensional radiation, proton therapy, or intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). In addition to delivering the treatment faster, SBRT’s concentrated radiation dose has been shown to yield better outcomes in some patients. SBRT is combined with daily CT Image Guidance is ensure that the radiation is precisely focused on the cancer. SBRT is appropriate for the liver, lung, abdomen, prostate, lymph nodes and spine.

Proton Therapy

Proton therapy is a trusted form of radiation therapy capable of precisely targeting tumors while significantly sparing healthy tissue and decreasing the risk of side effects. The unique characteristics of protons allow doctors to determine and plan exactly where the prescribed, maximum energy of the proton beam is released within the target tumor site to destroy cancer cells. Tightly conforming to the shape of the tumor site avoids delivering unnecessary radiation to nearby healthy tissue and vital organs. The decrease in unnecessary radiation results in patients’ improved quality of life both during and after treatment. Thompson Proton Center, located in Knoxville, is the only proton treatment facility in our region, and one of less than 40 in the country! Click here to learn more about proton therapy.

Gamma Knife

Gamma Knife is a stereotactic radio-surgical procedure used to treat brain tumors and other disorders. This equipment offers patients an alternative to traditional surgeries which sometimes involve additional risk and or complications from large incisions. Instead, Gamma Knife offers non-invasive, two to four hour procedures that often allow patients to leave the center the same day. We’re proud to be the only Gamma Knife center in our region, and one of less than 50 in the country.

Learn More About Radiation Therapy

We understand you may have questions about radiation therapy for yourself or a loved one. At Thompson Cancer Survival Center, we want to help you understand your options and confidently take the next step. Our teams of radiation experts have decades of combined experience and look forward to answering any questions you may have.

Contact Us

Radiation Oncology Locations

Thompson Radiation Oncology Services West
– a department of Parkwest Medical Center

9711 Sherrill Boulevard
Knoxville, TN 37932

Thompson Radiation Oncology Services Downtown
– a department of Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center

1915 White Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37916

Thompson Cancer Survival Center at Methodist

102 Vermont Avenue
Oak Ridge, TN 37830

Thompson Radiation Oncology Services Sevier
– a department of LeConte Medical Center

710 Middlecreek Road
Sevierville, TN 37862

Cumberland Regional Cancer Center

421 South Main Street
Crossville, TN 38555

Morristown Regional Cancer Center

908 W. 4th North Street
Morristown, TN 37814

Thompson Proton Center

6450 Provision Cares Way
Knoxville, TN 37909

Covenant Health