Radiation oncology suite at Orland Park location. Truebeam radiation therapy machine

The University of Chicago Medicine is home to one of the most experienced and well-respected radiation oncology teams in the country. Working together, our doctors, physicists and therapists design and deliver the most effective treatments available. We are proud that our patient outcomes are on par with the most well-known cancer centers in the country.

At UChicago Medicine, our patients benefit from:

Renowned Radiation Oncologists & Physicists

Our team has helped develop the latest, most effective technology and is regularly tapped to teach other facilities' physicians how to use it. This same team is actively conducting research for new and better ways to use radiation therapy to treat cancer.

A Technological Edge

Our radiation therapy team frequently collaborates with leading manufacturers of radiation therapy equipment on research and development. As a result, we have early access to advanced radiation technology. More than two decades ago, our doctors pioneered the use of intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) for complex gynecological and head and neck treatments. We were among the first hospitals in the country to offer image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT). Now we are utilizing the latest advanced image guidance approaches on the world's leading radiation treatment platform to provide unprecedented precision.

Using this advanced technology enables a range of radiation therapy treatments for cancer, so our expert doctors can choose the best treatment for each patient. With highly precise image-guided treatment delivery, we can target the radiation on the tumor and avoid healthy tissue more successfully than before. This often leads to better outcomes and substantially fewer side effects. In addition, compared to some alternative technologies, most treatments can be delivered in short daily doses of a few minutes over a period of weeks, rather than sessions of an hour or more. This is an added benefit for patients who may be anxious about lying still for long periods of time.

We offer the full range of conventional as well as sophisticated radiation techniques, including:

With interstitial brachytherapy, radioactive sources (for example, radioactive seeds) are put directly into the tissues, such as the prostate. These may be left in place permanently or only temporarily, depending upon the cancer and the treatment plan. 
UChicago Medicine's team uses advanced techniques of high-dose rate (HDR) radiation to deliver internal radiation therapy using temporary radioactive implants placed close to, or inside, the tumor(s). Because cancer can often impact organs and other essential structures, it is important for radiation treatment to be tightly focused on tumors to minimize serious side effects. This technique ensures the maximum radiation dose is given to cancerous tissues, while minimizing exposure to the surrounding healthy tissue.
Intra-operative radiotherapy is offered in our state-of-the-art operating room that was built to accommodate high-dose rate brachytherapy treatments. For select patients for whom further surgery at the tumor site is not possible, delivering targeted radiation reduces the risk of local recurrence while minimizing dose to non-cancerous organs. This highly complex procedure involves coordination among surgeons from several specialties, the radiation oncologist and the physics team. The entire treatment workflow is optimized to quickly deliver the radiation so our patients can spent less time in the operating room.
Our radiation oncologists and physicists work closely with the neurologists and surgeons to determine the best treatment option for patients with malignant or benign conditions in their brain. Whether it is a single-fraction framed radiosurgery or a fractionated frameless procedure, our team meticulously designs the radiation plan, tailoring it to each patient’s needs. During the treatment, we use the state-of-art imaging techniques and computerized cranial position controls to align and focus the radiation beams to the targets within sub-millimeter precision.
Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) uses the most advanced treatment planning and image-guided targeting techniques to precisely target the tumor while minimizing toxicity to healthy organs. SBRT delivers very high doses of radiation, thus also known as ablative radiotherapy, in five or fewer days depending on the type and location of the tumor. The best candidates for this procedure are patients with small, well-defined tumors who cannot tolerate surgery. For some patients, SBRT may be able to replace surgery as a primary cancer treatment.

SBRT is currently being used for early-stage non-small cell lung tumors, pancreatic and liver cancers, and metastatic tumors. UChicago Medicine's radiation oncology team offers the most advanced, personalized SBRT treatments to patients whose diseases range from the relatively common to the most complex and rare. Our unique personalized image and biology-guided SBRT program pioneered the successful use of SBRT in the management of patients with limited metastatic disease, commonly referred to as oligometastases. Most recently, our multidisciplinary team has demonstrated that the combination of immunotherapy with SBRT treatment can improve overall survival and quality of life in patients with advanced metastatic cancer.
Total body irradiation is a widely used form of radiotherapy as a preparative procedure prior to stem cell transplants. For those patients with unique needs, we also provide volumetric-modulated arc therapy (VMAT)-based total marrow irradiation, where the radiation doses are conformed to the bone marrow. Doses to non-cancerous organs, such as the brain, lungs, kidneys and liver can be significantly lowered to reduce toxicity while increasing therapeutic intensity of treatment.

In order to treat skin lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes), our radiation oncologists may deliver radiation to all the lymph nodes in the body to destroy cells that may have spread. In total skin electron therapy, the radiation is applied to the entire surface of the skin. 

Radiation given inside the body is a form of internal radiation therapy known as brachytherapy. The radioactive material is delivered through implants that are placed in or near a tumor, killing the cancer cells by destroying their DNA. Over time these implants will lose their radioactivity and are safe to be left in the body. The advantage of brachytherapy is delivering a high dose of radiation in a targeted area over a shorter period of time than external radiation therapy.

We offer permanent seed implant (I-125) as an alternative to external beam radiotherapy for prostate cancer patients. Working together with the patient’s primary urologist, our radiation oncologist will carefully implant dozens of rice grain-sized radioactive seeds in the patient’s prostate gland. The physicists will assist in the procedure to optimize the strength and location of implantation according to each patient’s anatomy.

Superficial X-ray therapy is a form of radiation therapy used to treat skin cancers and benign conditions and is often an alternative to surgery. It works by deploying a radiation beam that destroys cancer cells close to the skin surface — within a few millimeters deep. Because of the limited treatment area, other organs and normal tissues are spared from radiation. 

Patients receiving radiation for left-sided breast tumors while in the supine position (lying chest up) are at greater risk for radiation exposure to the heart. Women can minimize this risk by breathing deeply and briefly holding their breath during treatment, which moves the heart and lungs away from breast tissue. To make DIBH easier for the patient, our experts use a state-of-the-art system that relies on 3D surface imaging to detect the breast's position for accurate treatment. This highly sensitive technology delivers radiation only during optimal positioning, and shuts off automatically when the patient coughs or exhales. Unlike older DIBH technology, this system is non-invasive and does not require the patient to breathe into a device during treatment.

A Personalized, Multidisciplinary Approach to Care

Patients at UChicago Medicine benefit from a multidisciplinary approach that combines the expertise of many specialists in different areas of cancer care such as surgery, chemotherapy and other treatment options. Each patient's care team includes not one, but many nationally recognized experts.

Our radiation oncologists are leaders in the field and work together with a team of medical physicists to develop and perfect new approaches for cancer targeting and treatment delivery. This integrated team also collaborates to design individualized treatments for each patient, optimizing the patient outcome by maximizing tumor control while minimizing effects on non-tumor tissues.

The Department of Radiation and Cellular Oncology is one of the largest multi-site radiation oncology medical practices in the country, treating approximately 2,000 patients per year. In addition to offering services at the Hyde Park medical center campus, our radiation oncologists care for patients at UChicago Medicine locations in Harvey, Orland Park and New Lenox, as well as at the University of Illinois Hospital and Little Company of Mary Hospitals. Through the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital, members of our team also provide special expertise in radiation therapy for childhood cancers.

Combination Treatments from a Leading Cancer Team

As members of one of the top cancer teams in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report, our radiation oncologists work alongside outstanding medical oncologists, surgeons and other clinicians to offer the most targeted and customized therapy possible. Today, some of the best treatment options are combination treatments, in which radiation therapy is artfully combined with other treatment approaches.

Our radiation oncologists are members of an integrated team of nationally recognized medical and surgical oncologists. Each patient’s team of physicians works together seamlessly to provide scientifically advanced, personalized and compassionate care. In addition, our radiation oncologists and medical physicists conduct numerous clinical trials with medical and surgical oncology specialists to improve treatment outcomes.

Convenient Locations for Radiation Oncology Care