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Radiation Therapy


Radiation therapy at Ballad Health kills cancer cells by using high-energy waves you can’t feel. Receive advanced radiation treatments while staying close to home – near your family and support system – in Northeast Tennessee or Southwest Virginia.

External radiation for cancer

During external radiation therapy, you lie under or next to a machine called a linear accelerator that sends X-rays from outside your body into the tumor. You may benefit from our TrueBeam STx with Brainlab, Trilogy® linear accelerator, Elekta® or CyberKnife® machines, which provide:

  • Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), including stereotactic radiosurgery – Uses tightly targeted radiation beams instead of surgery to destroy tumors
  • Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) – Matches a tumor’s shape to precisely treat it, sometimes using RapidArc technology that allows each session of treatment to last just a few minutes

Protecting healthy tissue

Your care team helps protect healthy tissue near your tumor from radiation by using:

  • Image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT) – Takes pictures of your tumor during each treatment to ensure the radiation beam targets just the right spot
  • Respiratory gating – Moves the radiation beam along with tumors that shift as you breathe

Simulation prepares you for treatment

Before getting radiation, you might complete a simulation with your care team to prepare for treatment. You’ll learn how to position yourself during therapy, and you’ll receive a CT scan of the part of your body with the tumor. A medical professional will then make a tiny mark on your skin that shows where to target the radiation. This helps make sure you receive treatment where you need it.

Internal radiation (brachytherapy)

For internal radiation treatment, also called brachytherapy, a doctor places small, radioactive pellets inside your body near or in your tumor. Depending on your cancer, you might receive several sessions of:

  • High-dose rate brachytherapy – Stays in your body for just a few minutes at a time; treats breast cancer using MammoSite® technology in a five-day process
  • Low-dose rate brachytherapy – Remains in your body longer, often a few days but sometimes forever

Because brachytherapy is delivered in or right next to the tumor, it harms as few healthy cells as possible. The treatment also can deliver more radiation to your cancer than external radiation could.

Systemic radiation

For systemic radiation therapy, a doctor gives you an injection (shot) of radioactive medicine that travels through your blood to a tumor. You might get this treatment if you have lymphoma, thyroid cancer, prostate cancer or pain due to cancer that has spread to your bones.

Superficial radiation & orthovoltage for skin cancer

If you have skin cancer, you might get several sessions of low-energy orthovoltage radiation that kills tumors on the skin’s surface. Your doctor may recommend this nearly painless treatment instead of surgery for early cancers near sensitive areas, such as your eyes.