Radiation Oncology in Des Moines at John Stoddard Cancer Center

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UnityPoint Health - John Stoddard Cancer Center

Radiation Oncology & Brachytherapy Center

As the state's first hospital-based radiation oncology department at Iowa Methodist Medical Center, John Stoddard's Radiation Oncology & Brachytherapy Center continues to be one of the most technologically advanced radiation oncology departments in Iowa.

Video Tour - What to expect when you come, from parking to treatment and everything in between.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy works by focusing a beam of high-energy radiation or implanting radioactive sources in the area of tumor growth. Radiation can be used alone or in combination with other treatment, such as surgery and/or chemotherapy. In other cases, radiation therapy is employed as a supportive measure to reduce pain, pressure or bleeding. In addition, numerous benign tumors (non-cancerous) can be treated with radiation therapy. 

Our physicians and therapists are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to accommodate patients and referring physicians in the event of an emergency. Approximately 90 percent of our patients are served on an outpatient basis and we strive to achieve a "no wait" policy for our patients. We work hard to educate our patients and their family about their radiation oncology treatment process every step of the way. We view the family as an important part of the care we provide. Our ultimate goal is to provide accurate, precise and timely service to cure or relieve discomfort for the patient diagnosed with cancer.

  • Experienced and highly trained radiation oncologists, therapists and support staff

  • The very latest technology and radiation therapy treatment options (learn more about specific treatment options by using the links on the left).

  • Access to our many specialty services and support groups

  • Education and information through our Oncology Navigation Team

  • Parking right outside our door (wheel chairs and assistance are available)

  • Multidisciplinary team care

  • An extensive library of educational materials brochures of books, videos and CD's

High Dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy

High Dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy - HDR is a form of radiotherapy where a radioactive source is brought to a tumor target via a catheter that is placed within a natural or created channel. HDR treatments are typically outpatient procedures that are much more efficient and effective than traditional therapies. The ease of catheter placement and fast deliver of the dose makes this a viable treatment option.

A typical HDR treatment lasts from 8 to 20 minutes. A full course of HDR treatment is usually accomplished in four sessions. The John Stoddard Cancer Center has one of the state's only high dose rate (HDR) units allowing these types of treatments to be given on an outpatient basis. Each patient receives one to five HDR treatments lasting approximately 30 minutes. Patients experience fewer side effects because less radiation reaches surrounding healthy organs and tissue.

HDR Benefits

  • Reduces treatment time to days instead of weeks.
  • Provides fewer side effects by placing radiation directly into the tumor.
  • Offers greater control and accuracy of treatment, including dosing,source of radiation location and time it stays at each location.
  • Requires minimal recovery time, allowing you to go home within hours after treatment with few restrictions.
  • Preserves internal tissues, as no radioactive seeds migrate into other organs.
  • Able to shape radiation dose to fit the tumor.
  • Allows completion of radiation before chemotherapy begins, if required.

HDR has been a proven standard of care for breast, cervical, endometrial, esophageal, prostate, rectal and lung cancer treatments. Having one of only a few HDR units in the state of Iowa for the past ten years, the John Stoddard Cancer Center has cared for hundreds of patients who would have otherwise had weeks of additional radiation treatment or required a hospital stay.


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