Innovative Treatments

State-of-the-Art Treatment Options for Your Cancer Treatment

The Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Colorado Hospital (UCH) and the Comprehensive Cancer Center are internationally recognized as a center of excellence within the field of Radiation Oncology. The physicians are full-time faculty members of the University of Colorado School of Medicine who provide state-of-the-art cancer care to patients treated in the Radiation Oncology Clinic. Among the featured services provided are the following special programs: 

  • Pediatric Radiation Therapy (Pediatric)
  • Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT)
  • Cranial Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS)
  • Low dose-rate and High dose-rate Prostate Brachytherapy (LD & HD Prostate Brachy)
  • Accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI, or Partial Breast RT)
Pediatric Radiation Therapy – Radiation therapy remains a vitally important component of the care given to children with cancer. The Department of Radiation Oncology provides treatment for all types of childhood cancers. Located in a building 200 yards away from the Department on the Anschutz Medical Campus is The Children’s Hospital of Denver, a top-rated health care institution serving children and adolescents in a multi-state region. Physicians from the Department of Radiation Oncology participate in weekly conferences with pediatric medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, neuro-oncologists and neurosurgeons where the multi-disciplinary team develops an individually tailored plan of treatment for each patient. A full range of radiation therapy technology is available, including 3-dimensional conformal radiation therapy, intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT), and total body irradiation as preparation for bonemarrow transplant. For very young children, pediatric anesthesiologist are available . Pediatric cancer patients have access to the newest treatments available through participation in studies conducted by the Children's Oncology Group (COG) and the Pediatric Oncology Experimental Therapeutics Investigator Consortium (POETIC).
Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy - Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) and Cranial Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS) are methods to eradicate individual deposits of tumors throughout the body and in the brain. In each case a tumor is treated in five or fewer high dose, precisely delivered treatments using an entirely non-invasive approach that does not require general anesthesia and does not require an admission to the hospital. SBRT is safe and effective for tumors of the lung, liver, pancreas, and spine, among other locations. SBRT is often described by the particular brand name of the system used to deliver the treatment (for example Synergy, Novalis, Tomotherapy, CyberKnife, Trilogy, etc), but more important than the type of equipment is the expertise of the team of radiation oncologists, medical physicists, dosimetrists and radiation therapists who plan and administer each personalized course of treatment specially designed for the unique challenges present in each patient's case. The Radiation Oncology team menbers are world leaders in SBRT who have successfully treated over 600 patients using this approach.
Cranial Stereotactic Radiosurgery - or SRS, is an established technique for treating benign or malignant tumors in the brain including brain metastases, gliomas, acoustic neuromas, meningiomas and certain blood vessel abnormalities (arterio-venous malformations, or AVMs). SRS is typically given in a single high-dose radiation treatment using an entirely non-invasive approach that does not require general anesthesia and is provided on an outpatient basis. At the University of Colorado the SRS treatments are given using a sophisticated frameless technology. Instead of a rigid head frame screwed to the scalp, proper patient positioning and precise tumor targeting is achieved by obtaining stereoscopic x-ray pictures that are simple and painless. The radiation oncologists work closely with colleagues from the neurosurgery department in the planning and delivery of SRS.  The SRS technology available on campus at the University of Colorado Hospital includes the BrainLAB Novalis system and the Elekta GammaKnife platform.

Low dose-rate and High dose-rate Prostate Brachytherapy - Patients with prostate cancer often have a variety of choices for treatment including surgery (prostatectomy), external beam radiation therapy (for example IMRT with IGRT), and brachytherapy (the placement of radioactive seeds within the prostate gland). Patients with prostate cancer who are evaluated in the Radiation Oncology Clinic are all discussed at the weekly multidisciplinary Urologic Cancer Conference, where a team of radiation oncologists, urologists, pathologists, diagnostic radiologists and medical oncologists discuss each case and arrive at a consensus recommendation of the best treatment options or combination treatment option for each case. The UCD Radiation Oncology Department is equipped to provide a complete range of services for patients with prostate cancer including IMRT, IGRT, and brachytherapy.

Brachytherapy can be done in two ways. Low dose-rate (LDR) brachytherapy involves the placement of numerous individual radioactive seeds that are permanently implanted within the prostate. The procedure is done in an operating room and takes 1-2 hours. Patients can expect to go home the same day. LDR brachytherapy can be the complete treatment given to certain early stage prostate cancer patients. High dose-rate (HDR) brachytherapy involves the placement of catheters (thin plastic tubes) into the prostate followed by the temporary placement of radioactive material into the catheters. The catheters are removed immediately after the treatment is complete. HDR brachytherapy is usually performed as a boost in conjunction with a shortened course of external beam for selected patients with advanced prostate cancer. The UCD radiation oncology team has extensive experience in the successful application of both LDR and HDR brachytherapy for prostate cancer.

Accelerated partial breast irradiation - Many patients with early stage breast cancer can be treated with a breast-preserving approach that involves a lumpectomy (removal of the breast tumor itself but not the entire breast) and radiotherapy given to the breast to eliminate and remaining cancer cells there. All patients with breast cancer who are evaluated in the Radiation Oncology Clinic are all discussed at the weekly multidisciplinary Breast Cancer Conference, where a team of radiation oncologists, surgical oncologists, pathologists, diagnostic radiologists and medical oncologists discuss each case and arrive at a consensus recommendation of the best treatment combination in each case.

 Accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI) is a novel treatment strategy whereby some patients with early stage breast cancer can enjoy breast preservation and a course of radiotherapy that is completed within only one week, as opposed to the traditional course of breast radiotherapy that stretches over 6 to 6 1/2 weeks. APBI can be accomplished using either external beam radiotherapy or a form of brachytherapy. The UCH Radiation Oncology team includes national leaders in the development of APBI.

Complex Gynecologic Cancer Treatment Including All Brachytherapy Modalities - University of Colorado is a national leader in gynecologic cancer treatment and brachytherapy based on case volume and complexity.  We have outstanding local control outcomes and patient cure rates,  treating patients from across Colorado and the Mountain West.  This includes intracavitary brachytherapy for cervical and endometrial cancers, as well as freehand and template based interstitial brachytherapy for all complex gynecologic cancers, including cervical, vaginal, uterine, ovarian and vulvar cancers.  We also offer innovative external beam treatment for gynecologic cancers, including novel applications of radiation in ovarian, fallopian tube and primary peritoneal cancers.  The gynecologic cancer team writes national guidelines for patient care, review cases for other institutions, and present cases through gynecologic multidisciplinary tumor board to maximize options for all stages of disease, including clinical trial participation.

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