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At the Rio Bravo Cancer Center, our priority is patient care. That’s why we continue to offer our patients the most advanced technologies available to treat their disease. Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy (VMAT) technology represents another step in fulfilling our ongoing mission.


Rio Bravo Cancer Center provides some of the most cutting-edge therapy and treatment planning alternatives for patients who have been diagnosed with various types of cancers. Our advanced radiation therapies are used to treat kidney cancer, breast cancer, bone cancer, brain cancer, CNS cancer, head and neck cancer, prostate cancer, and skin cancer, just to name a few. However, this is not the radiation of years passed. Advancements in science, physics, medicine, and cancer treatment options have resulted in radiation therapy that enables the radiation oncologists at Rio Bravo Cancer Center to pinpoint the precise areas to be treated while leaving healthy tissue unharmed.


3D conformal radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that shapes the radiation beams to match the tumor's shape.


In the past, radiation beams only matched the height and width of the tumor — exposing healthy tissue to radiation. Advances in imaging technology have made it possible to locate and treat the tumor precisely. Conformal radiation therapy uses the targeting information to focus precisely on the tumor while avoiding the healthy surrounding tissue.


This exact targeting makes it possible to use higher radiation levels in treatment. Higher Radiation doses are more effective in shrinking and killing tumors.

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Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) is an advanced form of external beam radiation therapy delivered with astonishing accuracy to cancerous tissues in the body, using a computer-controlled and highly technical device known as a "linear accelerator." IMRT allows our radiation oncologists to "modulate" (or vary) the amount of radiation dose given to different parts of the cancerous area. The modulation is done with tremendous precision and three-dimensional detail, according to the cancerous tumor's shape, size, and location. This allows our patients to know they are receiving radiation only where needed, and surrounding healthy tissue will be unaffected by the treatment.

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All prostate cancer treatments, except active surveillance, can cause side effects for the patient. Radiation therapy is a commonly recommended form of treatment due to its effectiveness and increased accuracy in targeting only the cancer cells within the prostate. Patients undergoing radiation therapy can, however, experience side effects during and after treatment, including:

  • Erectile dysfunction

  • Urinary incontinence, urgency, and frequency

  • Fecal incontinence

  • Rectal bleeding and painful bowel movements

  • Diarrhea

The severity of these side effects varies from patient to patient and is influenced by the dosage and frequency of the radiation therapy. We are dedicated to helping patients maintain the highest quality of life during and after treatment. For patients receiving radiation therapy, we offer SpaceOAR, a revolutionary system that helps to protect the rectum of patients undergoing radiation therapy with clinically proven results.


SpaceOAR Hydrogel is designed to reduce rectal injury in men receiving radiation therapy for prostate cancer. Side effects of radiation therapy are typically caused by radiation damage to the neighboring organs, such as the rectum. SpaceOAR acts as a spacer for an organ at risk (OAR) – pushing the rectum away from the prostate so that it won't receive the high dose radiation directed at the prostate gland.

SpaceOAR graphic


The SpaceOAR hydrogel spacer is put in place during a minimally-invasive procedure. Once this spacer is in place, patients cannot usually feel it. This system is similar to other products that may be used to protect patients in cardiology, ophthalmology, and brain surgery. The spacer will remain in place for three months to protect the rectum during radiation treatment. After this time has passed, the spacer is absorbed by the body and excreted in the patient's urine.

SpaceOAR graphic


Some of the notable benefits of the SpaceOAR System for prostate cancer patients include:

  • Less risk of damage to the rectum– SpaceOAR moves the rectum further away from the target of radiation treatment, thus reducing the amount of damage to rectal tissue.

  • Fewer rectal side effects and complications – With SpaceOAR in place during radiation treatment, patients are less likely to experience rectal side effects, including mucus discharge, rectal bleeding, rectal urgency, diarrhea, and rectal pain.

  • Minimally-invasive – The placements of SpaceOAR hydrogel is minimally-invasive and cause minimal discomfort.

  • Quick, easy recovery– Following the placement procedure, most patients can immediately return to normal activities with little to no restrictions.

  • No need for removal – The body will begin to absorb SpaceOAR after three months, and it will be wholly absorbed in approximately six months, so there is no need to have it removed. Once the hydrogel is absorbed, nothing foreign will remain in the body.

  • Painless and non-disruptive– Patients don't typically feel SpaceOAR while it is in place. It doesn't disrupt the patient's life or cause noticeable side effects.

  • Low risk of side effects and complications – Although side effects and complications are possible after any surgical procedure, problems following the placement of SpaceOAR are relatively low.

Studies have shown that SpaceOAR's biocompatible material can be used safely in the body. The FDA has also cleared this technology, and it has been used successfully by more than 10,000 prostate cancer patients.


SpaceOAR Statistics


Published results of a randomized clinical trial on the SpaceOAR system demonstrate that the spacer was safe, that patients tolerated it well, and that the spacer significantly reduced rectum radiation injury. This reduced rectal radiation decreased reports of pain during radiation treatment, and one year after radiation treatment decreased the rectum complications by 71%.


In the year following radiation treatment, clinical trial patients that did not get SpaceOAR System were 3.5 times more likely to have rectal complications than those who did.


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At Rio Bravo Oncology, Electron Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT) is frequently used to treat various types of skin cancer. EBRT uses technology that employs tiny, electrically charged particles to target cancer cells on the body's surface. The ultimate level of precision this type of radiation therapy affords allows for higher doses of radiation with less risk to surrounding tissue. This helps our radiation oncologists to achieve their single objective, which is to increase the likelihood of controlling or eliminating the cancer.



4D CT (computed tomography) represents the next step in imaging. This advanced imaging method makes CT scans much faster and more accurate than ever before. 4D CT uses a new technology that captures the location and movement of your tumor and the movement of your body's organs over time.


This is valuable for accurately treating tumors located on or near organs that move, like in the chest and abdomen.

Patient Care


Technology such as the Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy (VMAT) system keeps the Rio Bravo Cancer Center on the cutting edge of cancer treatment. We have used VMAT regularly to treat prostate, head, and neck tumors, as well as a range of other cancers.

The main advantages of VMAT are precision and speed. VMAT focuses the radiation on the tumor while protecting healthy tissues. Each VMAT treatment is completed in less than two minutes. Faster treatments improve the accuracy of radiation delivery and improve patient convenience and quality of life.


VMAT uses photons (W-rays) generated by a medical linear accelerator. The idea is to deliver the maximum radiation dose to the tumor while reducing the amount of healthy tissue affected. Tiny beams with varying intensities are aimed at a tumor and then rotated 360 degrees around the patient. This results in attacking the target in a complete three-dimensional manner.


Gold fiducial markers are tiny, gold seeds, about the size of a grain of rice, that are put in and/or around a tumor to show exactly where it is in the body. Doctors can then target the tumor directly and give higher doses of radiation with less harm to nearby healthy tissue. They are also known as gold fiducial marker seeds, gold seeds, and gold-seed fiducial markers.


In the multidisciplinary management of patients with cancer, positron-emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) fusion imaging is an exciting and rapidly evolving technique improving our ability to make better treatment decisions. PET utilizes radioactive sugar molecules, which cancer cells use up faster than normal cells. This causes tumors to emit an activity signal to identify cancerous areas.


PET-CT is useful in the staging of numerous cancers, including:

  • lung cancer

  • Hodgkin's disease

  • head and neck cancer

  • ovarian cancer

  • gastrointestinal stromal tumors

  • gynecologic cancers

  • colorectal cancers

  • breast cancer


Patient care

Studies have shown that PET-CT is useful for target volume delineation during radiation treatment planning.


PET-CT is quickly becoming the standard of care for staging malignancies at specific anatomic sites. Studies have found that PET-CT is more accurate in helping to identify cancer than magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or PET alone, and PET-CT findings resulted in a change in treatment.


These technologies are not widely available at other outpatient treatment facilities. Rio Bravo Cancer Center is proud to provide patients with the most advanced cancer treatment in a comfortable, personal setting. Our cancer center is staffed by radiation oncologists, physicists, therapists, and office personnel who bring decades of cancer care methodologies experience to each patient. 


Our team of cancer specialists will work closely with your other physicians and in conjunction with your overall cancer treatment program to determine the most viable radiation treatment plan for you. Our compassionate staff helps guide each patient through their journey from cancer diagnosis to remission.



Chemotherapy is the use of any drug to treat any disease. But to most people, the word chemotherapy means drugs used for cancer treatment. It’s often shortened to “chemo.”


Surgery and radiation therapy remove, kill, or damage cancer cells in a particular area, but chemotherapy can work throughout the whole body. This means chemotherapy can kill cancer cells that have spread (metastasized) to parts of the body far away from the original (primary) tumor.


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