Radiation Oncology

The first and finest radiation oncology service in Western Wisconsin, Gundersen Health System’s Radiation Oncology department is the only one in the Tri-state Region accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR). This uncommon achievement is a hallmark of the quality of care offered here. ACR’s rigorous peer review process confirms Gundersen as a healthcare facility to choose with confidence for the latest and best in radiation therapy.

For more than 30 years, Gundersen radiation oncologists have stopped or slowed cancer with high-energy x-rays generated by linear accelerators. Through ongoing efforts to improve the quality of care, Radiation Oncology offers the latest technology. These innovations offer our patients many advantages including:
  • Better cancer detection
  • More targeted treatment
  • Greater protection for healthy tissue
  • Reduced treatment time
  • Quicker recovery time
  • Hope for once inoperable cancers
  • Generally less physically taxing treatments for patients
In most cases, Radiation Oncology at Gundersen was among the first to embrace these technologies. This means our highly trained staff is among the most experienced and skilled at using these technologies. They include:
  • Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS) and Radiotherapy (SRT) delivers precise, high doses of radiation to formerly inoperable brain and spine tumors while minimizing radiation exposure to healthy tissue. Require no incision and eliminate complications and substantial recovery time associated with traditional surgery.
  • Image Guided Radiation Techniques (IGRT) is an advanced form of patient positioning. When a high-dose radioactive beam must focus on small tumors or portions of organs to minimize effects on nearby healthy tissue, accurate positioning is particularly critical.
  • MammoSite™ Radiation Therapy System (RTS) delivers radiation directly to tissue where cancer would most likely recur. Gundersen was one of the first centers authorized to offer this approach to partial breast radiation treatment. It can shorten radiation therapy by as much as 85 percent.
  • Prostate Brachytherapy – Radioactive Seed Implants is highly successful in the treatment for early-stage prostate cancer. It does not require surgical incision and has low rates of complications such as incontinence and impotence.
  • Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) shapes a treatment beam to fit the contours of its target. With computerized “sculpting,” high radiation doses can be delivered to a tumor while sparing normal surrounding tissue and organs.
  • High Dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy shortened radiation treatments for some gynecologic cancers from days to hours. An intense radioactive source is placed in or near malignant tissue. Normal tissues receive less radiation than from an external beam, which means fewer complications.
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) can detect cancer and other diseases earlier, more accurately and with less patient discomfort than other diagnostic procedures.

In addition to providing the most advanced radiation therapy options for patients, Gundersen helps train tomorrow’s healthcare professionals.
In collaboration with the Radiation Oncology department, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse offers an accredited certificate program in medical dosimetry. The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology. JCERT is the only agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for accreditation of educational programs in radiography, radiation therapy, magnetic resonance, and medical dosimetry.

Integrated care
Clinical and support services are integrated at the Gundersen Center for Cancer & Blood Disorders, a state-of-the art facility on the first two floors of the East Building. This helps minimize the patient’s interdepartmental movement during evaluation and treatment in La Crosse.

More than simply treating disease, the Center for Cancer & Blood Disorders also helps patients and families meet emotional, spiritual, lifestyle and financial challenges commonly associated with cancer. To support superior clinical cancer care, Integrative Cancer Support Services is staffed with professionals skilled in family therapy, child life, nutrition, genetic testing and counseling, social services, rehabilitation services, spiritual guidance, palliative care and hospice.

We work with patients and their families to devise workable, comprehensive care plans to meet their needs and wishes. Soon after diagnosis, new oncology patients are screened by a member of the support team and follow-up appointments are schedule to help address any issues that can affect treatment progress. We will also provide counsel and support for patients and their families if they want to consider comfort measures when a cure no longer appears possible.

In addition, the Center offers:

  • Patient waiting areas and a library with a soaring vista of open sky and Mississippi River bluffs.
  • The nondenominational Sanctuary—a quiet retreat for reflection and privacy.
  • Kid Town, a place for children and teens who prefer active, imaginative play when coping with their illness.
  • If needed, there is a 30-bed medicine/oncology unit at the Gundersen Lutheran Hospital.
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