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Atlantic Health System Cancer Care is committed to providing the most advanced radiation technology available. Advances in cardiac-sparing and tattooless and mark-free Breast Radiation Therapies, available at Morristown Medical Center, Chilton Medical Center, and Hackettstown Medical Centers, marks our newest phase in targeted, patient-friendly treatment services.

Maximizing the dose of radiation at the treatment site, while minimizing damage to the surrounding healthy tissue, limits side effects associated with treatment while improving long-term outcomes. This targeted approach is proven to be effective in treating most types of cancer, including  breast, prostate, lung, rectal and colon, cervix and uterine, head and neck, stomach, pancreas

Currently, our award-winning sites at Morristown Medical Center, and Hackettstown Medical Centers are the first centers in New Jersey to offer a tattoo and mark-free approach to breast radiation therapy. The availability of these options improves patient comfort, while giving patients and their families options in available care.

Cardiac-Sparing Radiation Therapy

While radiation therapy is a highly effective treatment for cancers in the breast, upper abdomen, and chest, treatment of these areas exposes the nearby heart to radiation.

Atlantic Health System Cancer Care at Morristown and Chilton medical centers helps prevent this unintentional radiation damage to the heart through a technique known as Deep Inspiration Breath Hold (DIBH). The DIBH consists of taking a deep breath and holding it throughout treatment. This simple-seeming technique effectively moves the heart out of range of the treatment, protecting it from radiation.

State-of-the-art equipment at Morristown and Chilton medical centers improve upon the DIBH technique by monitoring the patient’s positioning, including the expansion of the chest during a DIBH, with sub-millimeter accuracy. The equipment alerts radiologists if the patient moves out of proper positioning – when exhaling, for example. This has been shown to substantially decrease abnormalities in blood flow to the heart as long as six-months post treatment.

Tattoo and Mark Free Breast Radiation Therapy

To target the same area for treatment from one day to the next, a common step early in the process is to tattoo patients with, on average, three or four small marks. These marks are meant to ensure proper alignment with the equipment, and to guide the therapists.

Some patients aren’t bothered by these tattoos. Others bear them proudly as a mark of their journey.

For many patients, however, these tattoos are painful, in a sensitive area, and simply unwanted.

By using advanced imaging techniques and computer algorithms, Morristown and Hackettstown Medical Centers provide improved accuracy to the target site without the need for tattoos. Instead of using permanent or semi-permanent marks to properly align patients with the equipment, the equipment itself monitors patient positioning with sub-millimeter accuracy. 

The accuracy of these measurements ensures proper positioning for every scheduled dose over the course of the treatment plan, without the need for tattoos or other marks.

High-Performance Linear Accelerators (LINAC)

LINACs use high-energy X-rays that conform to the shape of the tumor being treated. Atlantic Health System is equipped with state-of-the-art LINAC technology, such as TrueBeam, CyberKnife, Trilogy and Clinac iX. Morristown Medical Center was the first in the Northeast to use TrueBeam’s iterative cone beam computed tomography (iCBCT), and Overlook Medical Center was the first in the Northeast to offer CyberKnife for the treatment of inoperable or surgically complex tumors.

Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy (IMRT) and Arc Therapy

IMRT is an advanced, highly-conformal treatment that uses multiple beam angles and varying degrees of intensity to simultaneously increase the radiation dose applied to tumors and decrease the risk of side effects. It is effective at treating head and neck, prostate, gynecologic, thoracic, brain, gastrointestinal and breast cancers.

Image-Guided Radiation Therapy

Commonly used in conjunction with IMRT, image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) allows radiation oncologists to precisely target tumors and dynamically track their motion. This is made possible through a variety of advanced technologies, including:

  • Surface image guidance
  • 4D and gated cone beam computed tomography (CBCT)
  • Iterative cone beam computed tomography (iCBCT)
  • Computed tomography (CT) on-rail

Morristown Medical Center pioneered the first commercially-available CT-based image guidance treatment system in the world. The results of this work led to the widespread use of image-guided radiation therapy in radiation oncology today.

Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT)

Used alongside IMRT and IGRT, SBRT delivers precise, high doses of radiation over an extremely shortened period of time, usually five treatments or less. Side effects are minimal because it’s completely noninvasive and requires no anesthesia. SBRT is effective at treating lung, prostate, liver, pancreatic, adrenal gland, brain or spinal cord tumors

Accelerated Breast Radiation

This technique allows eligible women with breast cancer to receive radiation over a shorter time with effective tumor control and positive cosmetic outcomes. Learn more >

High Dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy

Brachytherapy provides an exceptionally high dose of temporary radioactivity directly next to or within a tumor. Treatments are customized to each patient, minimizing damage to organs in the surrounding areas without diminishing the total radiation applied to the tumor. Often available on an outpatient basis, HDR brachytherapy is commonly used to treat cervical, uterine, endometrial, lung and esophageal cancers.

Surface Tracking

Surface image guidance improves the precision of radiation treatments and our ability to repeat them. Multiple cameras track the patient’s position in 3D and alert our team if there has been movement from the desired location. Adjustments can be made without stopping treatment to correct any inaccuracies.

Rectum-Sparing Prostate Radiotherapy – SpaceOAR

Men undergoing radiation treatments for prostate cancer may be eligible for the placement of a specialized hydrogel called SpaceOAR. This substance acts as a spacer, increasing the distance between the prostate and the rectum, so that the rectum receives a much lower dose of radiation. SpaceOAR is injected as part of a minimally invasive procedure and is slowly reabsorbed by the body after treatments are completed.

Expert Radiation Oncology Team

Every patient’s treatment plan is reviewed by our multidisciplinary team of medical physicists, radiation therapists, oncology-certified nurses, oncology-certified nutritionists, licensed oncology social workers, speech and swallowing therapists, and experts who are board-certified in radiation oncology.

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Research and Clinical Trials

Atlantic Health System actively participates in clinical trials that expand the effectiveness of radiation therapy in the fight against cancer.