St. Joseph’s Health’s Cancer Services is a regional leader in clinical cancer care. Offering a full complement of world-class inpatient and outpatient services, our nationally recognized expert and experienced staff provide a broad spectrum of high-quality, multidisciplinary care options that focus on prevention, diagnosis, treatment and support services — all carefully tailored to meet the unique, highly personal needs of each patient while maintaing a deep sense of compassion.
Receiving a diagnosis of cancer can be frightening and confusing. If you, a family member, or a friend has recently been diagnosed with cancer, you probably have many questions about the disease and how to get treatment. At St. Joseph’s Radiation Oncology locations, we are here to help you understand your treatment options and get the right care.
The information on this site was created by physicians and other members of the radiation oncology team who provide expertise on the topics presented. However, this is for informational purposes only and should not be used in place of advice from a medical professional. If you have questions about a specific treatment, please ask your radiation oncologist.
To help you and your family better understand the treatment options available, we have created this website to explain how radiation therapy is used to safely and effectively treat cancer.
St. Joseph’s University Medical Center’s Radiation Oncology program is led by physicians who are nationally recognized in their field, assisted by an excellent team of radiation therapists, physicists and nurses. Our doctors help hundreds of patients and families each year. Together, their mission is to provide each patient with expert, individualized radiation therapy plans, underscored with compassion and understanding. While undergoing radiation therapy, each patient is carefully and constantly monitored by the radiation therapists, who communicate through the use of closed-circuit television and intercom systems, providing patients with a sense of comfort and guidance during their procedures.
With a history of delivering superb cancer care treatment to the residents of Northern New Jersey, St. Joseph’s Health welcomes you to the new St. Joseph’s Cancer Center in Wayne.
Our highly qualified cancer specialists provide treatment and quality-of-life services that address physical, emotional and spiritual needs in the tradition of St. Joseph’s Health.
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Radiation Oncologists – Board-certified specialists in radiation therapy, who prescribe the radiation dose and number of treatments, and oversee each patient’s treatment. They work with other members of the radiation therapy team to develop your treatment plan and make sure that each treatment administered accurately. Your radiation oncologist will also monitor your progress and adjust the treatment as necessary to make sure the radiation is hitting its target while minimizing side effects. Before, during and after your radiation therapy treatment, your radiation oncologists will work closely with other cancer doctors, such as medical oncologists and surgeons, to make sure the radiation is most effective.
Radiation Oncology Nurses – Registered nurses with advanced training in oncology, who co-manage patients. Radiation oncology nurses work closely with the radiation oncologists and radiation therapists to care for you and your family at the time of consultation, while you are receiving treatments, and during your follow-up care. They will explain the possible side effects you may feel and help manage them. They will assess your progress during treatment and help you cope with the changes you may experience. They also provide support and counseling to you and your family.
Physicists – Medical physicists work directly with your radiation oncologist during treatment planning and delivery. They are responsible for developing and directing quality control programs for equipment and procedures. Medical physicists ensure the equipment is functioning properly by taking precise measurements of the radiation beam and regularly performing other vital safety tests. Medical physicists help to ensure that complex treatments are properly tailored for each patient. Specialists with extensive training in physics, they are experts in measuring radiation and are responsible for the overall accuracy and safety of treatments. Medical physicists are certified by the American Board of Radiology in Medical Physics.
Dosimetrists – Experts in radiation oncology treatment procedures. They assist with treatment planning and optimizing the size, shape and arrangement of the area to receive the radiation dose.
Radiation Therapists – Skilled and licensed in administering daily radiation treatments, they participate in the planning and simulation processes, provide care during treatment sessions and are responsible for the safe and accurate operation of the high-tech equipment. Radiation therapists work with the radiation oncologists to deliver the daily radiation treatments that your doctor prescribed. They maintain daily records and regularly check the treatment machines to make sure they are working properly. Radiation therapists also follow you during treatment to alert your doctor to any problems that may occur.
Radiation therapists must pass a special examination and are certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.
Other Healthcare Professionals
During your treatment, you may work with a number of other healthcare professionals while undergoing radiation therapy. These specialists ensure that all of your physical and psychological needs are met during your treatment.
Social workers – Social workers help meet the social and emotional needs of cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy.
Nutritionists – Nutritional support during radiation therapy is vital. Cancer treatment often affects a person’s eating habits and nutritional needs. Working with a registered dietitian/nutritionist helps ensure you get the nutrition you need.
Other physicians – Treating cancers require team efforts and sometimes include physicians other than your radiation oncologist. Other doctors may include surgeons, medical oncologists, radiologists, dentists and your family doctor. Depending on your type of cancer, you may need other specialists. You can ask your radiation oncologist about the role other physicians may have in your treatment of care.
In order to make your consultation with your physician as informative and thorough as possible, the following information will be required:
- Photo identification
- Health insurance identification cards
- HMO, authorization referral (if available)
- Arrive 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment time
- List of your medications
- If you have a pacemaker, bring your pacemaker identification card
- A list of any questions you may want to ask the doctor
- Any medical records that you may have outside of St. Joseph’s Health
Radiation Therapy - What to Expect
Prior to the start of radiation therapy, there are a number of steps that should be followed in order to ensure a smooth delivery of care. Radiation therapy can take approximately TWO WEEKS to begin. To make your journey with us as smooth and comfortable as possible, we will provide you with a pretreatment schedule. Since each patient is unique, there may be some variation in your timeline.
Consultation – You will meet with the Radiation Oncologist and radiation nurse to discuss your history and determine a personalized treatment plan. At the end of your consultation you will receive a general radiation therapy information packet. You will speak with the receptionist to schedule your next appointment.
Treatment Planning – To aid the Radiation Oncologist in determining which radiation therapy treatment option is best for you, a CT scan, PET-CT or MRI may be ordered. To ensure you receive the best care, we may need to use special treatment devices to aid with the setup. The Radiation Oncologist and the Medical Physicist staff will design a treatment plan that is optimized just for YOU.
Simulation – Once your treatment plan has been created and approved by the Radiation Oncologist, you will come back to the Radiation Department for a simulation. During your simulation, the Radiation Therapist will finalize your positioning using X-rays to ensure your treatment plan lines up perfectly on your body. During your simulation you may receive ‘tattoos’. Tattoos are a freckle-like permanent marking used to outline the treatment setup points.
New Start Films – After the simulation films have been approved and verified, you are now ready for a “simulated” treatment on the treatment machine. Portal images will be taken on the treatment machine to ensure all blocking and setup parameters are correct. Once the Radiation Oncologist approves all portal images, you are ready to start your radiation therapy treatments.
The Radiation Therapy center is equipped with the most sophisticated, highly accurate, computerized radiation treatment planning and delivery systems. These systems provide the hospital’s radiation oncology specialists with a remarkable level of control, as well as the ability to modify the intensity of radiation beams, so they can customize treatment to each tumor's specific size and shape while sparing healthy surrounding tissue.
CT Simulator – The CT Simulator is the most advanced 3-D simulation system and has set the standard for radiotherapy planning. It enables physicians to reconstruct 3-D images of the tumor and surrounding sites in order to determine its exact size and location in relation to healthy tissue. All treatment planning is based on the initial CT scan. The data is then seamlessly transmitted to the linear accelerator through the advanced computer-based planning system, allowing for the most accurate delivery of radiation for each patient.
High-dose Brachytherapy – Brachytherapy uses a radiation source for treatment of gynecological cancers. Using advanced computerized technology, St. Joseph’s radiation oncology team plans the position of the source to achieve maximum therapeutic impact.
IMRT (Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy) – With IMRT, radiation is broken up into thousands of thin beams that can enter the body at different angles to penetrate the tumor. IMRT uses very sophisticated computer hardware and software that enables radiation oncologists to sculpt the beams to the three-dimensional shape of the tumor and vary the radiation dose within a single beam. This allows for the delivery of higher, more effective doses to the tumor while minimizing radiation exposure of surrounding normal tissue.
Linear Accelerator (External Beam Radiation) – St. Joseph’s linear accelerator is capable of delivering a wide variety of radiation energies, depending on individual patient needs. The Varian 21EX accelerator can be preprogrammed to conform to the exact shape and size of the tumor site for specific areas of the body, eliminating the risk of irradiating healthy tissue. The high-powered linear accelerator provides the prescribed dose of radiation therapy in approximately 30 seconds, allowing for short patient treatment sessions.
Pediatric Radiation – Pediatric radiation oncologists are skilled in treating childhood cancers with radiation doses very different from those used for adults. Additionally, they always consider their patient's future, designing treatment plans not only for their young patients at the time of diagnosis, but also tailoring the plans to reduce the burden of long-term serious side effects.
St. Joseph’s University Medical Center radiation therapy treatment appointments can be made by calling 973.754.2675 from Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
St. Joseph’s Cancer Center radiation therapy treatment appointments can be made by calling 973.310.0300.