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Cancer is an uncontrolled growth of an abnormal cell in the human body. It can originate from almost any organ. Genetic and environmental factors can contribute to transforming healthy cells into cancerous growths. Cancer is commonly in the form of a centralized tumor; however, if not treated, it can continue to grow and invade adjacent tissue and spread to other parts of the body (metastasize).


Treatment of cancer depends on the type of cancer and its stage. Stage refers to the quantity of cancer in the body. The stage is commonly scored from 1 to 4. The earliest stage is 1. Stage 4 represents distant spread and is generally considered incurable. Most cancers are also given a "grade," which describes the quality or aggressiveness of the malignancy.


Cancer treatments most commonly include surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation. Some cancers require a combination of treatments.

  • Surgery – Removal of the cancerous growth

  • Chemotherapy – An oral or intravenous (IV) medication that kills cancers cells

  • Radiation – Focused X-ray treatment that destroys cancer cells


While doctors can't cure all cancers, researchers have made tremendous strides in cancer treatment in the past 40 years. Treatments have become increasingly effective and targeted. Advances in medicine have also resulted in much more effective management to address the common side effects.


Primary brain tumors are tumors that originate in the brain. Brain tumors can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Benign brain tumors can grow and compress nearby brain structures but rarely spread into other parts of the body. Malignant brain tumors are likely to grow quickly and spread into other parts of the central nervous system, including the spinal canal. There are several types of brain tumors, including gliomas, meningiomas, pituitary adenomas, and nerve sheath tumors. These cancers are not to be confused with metastatic cancer, which is cancer from another part of the body that has spread to the brain.

Radiology Imaging
  • Represent roughly 1.5% of all newly diagnosed cancers.

  • Overall cognitive ability may be affected depending on which brain lobe contains the cancer. For example, Gliomas arise from the glial cells and are the most common brain and CNS (Central Nervous System) tumors. Gliomas make up approximately half of all brain tumors and are classified by the disease's cell type, grade, and location. The most common types of gliomas are oligodendrogliomas, ependymomas, and astrocytomas.

  • Frontal lobe – Behavioral and cognitive decline

  • Temporal lobe – Memory or visual field defects, aphasia (inability to speak), seizures, and hemiparesis (partial paralysis).

  • Parietal lobe – Sensory seizures. Motor dysfunctions that the patient may not recognize

  • Meningiomas are the second most common of all brain tumors and account for roughly 20% of all brain tumors. Meningiomas are generally slow-growing and produce minimal symptoms throughout a patient's life. Only a tiny percentage of these tumors are malignant.

  • Pituitary adenomas are benign lesions that originate in the pituitary gland. These tumors make up approximately 15% of all brain tumor patients. They can be hormone-secreting or non-hormone secreting. If they grow, they can compress the optic chiasm leading to visual problems.


Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women in the United States. Each year, over 200,000 American women are diagnosed with this disease. As a result, thousands of women in Central California will be diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Breast cancer is a type of cancer that forms in tissues of the breast, usually the ducts (tubes that carry milk to the nipple) and lobules (glands that make milk). It occurs in both men and women, although male breast cancer is rarer.


At Rio Bravo Cancer Center, our team of oncologists provides only the most innovative and proven cancer-fighting radiation therapies as one part of an overall comprehensive breast cancer treatment program. Indeed, our only objective is the successful treatment of your cancer.


Many breast cancers will require surgery, and nearly all will necessitate cancer-fighting radiation therapy to destroy any remaining cancer cells in the breast and beyond. Yet, older radiation delivery methods fall short when it comes to effective radiation treatment for breast cancer because they can expose nearby, healthy tissue to unwarranted radiation.


However, cutting-edge radiation therapies such as Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) and Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) enable Rio Bravo Cancer Center’s team of specialized oncologists to deliver higher doses of radiation with acute precision to cancerous tumors.

A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the armpit area

  • nipple tenderness

  • a change in how the breast or nipple appears

  • a change in the size or shape of the breast

  • a difference in the skin of the breast or nipple

  • nipple discharge (fluid)

Early breast cancer usually does not cause pain. However, a woman should see her health care provider about breast pain or any other symptom that does not go away after a few weeks. Any woman with these symptoms should be evaluated by a physician as soon as possible.


Gastrointestinal cancer is a broad term used to describe any cancer originating from the digestive system. This includes cancers of the esophagus, gallbladder, liver, pancreas, stomach, small and large intestine, rectum, and anus.


Presenting symptoms may vary depending on which part of the gastrointestinal system is positive for cancer. A standard diagnostic tool for various gastrointestinal cancers includes an endoscopy or colonoscopy followed by a biopsy. The location and extent of the tumor will dictate the preferred treatment method.

  • Esophageal cancer is a relatively rare form of cancer that appears in men more than women and has been tied to heavy use of alcohol, smoking, and GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease).

  • Stomach cancers are often asymptomatic because the tumor is growing in a large cavity. This type of cancer is much more prevalent in Asia.

  • Hepatocellular Carcinoma is the most common type of liver cancer and, fortunately, is rare in the United States. HCC has been associated with alcoholism, toxins, cirrhosis of the liver, and hepatitis.

  • Gallbladder tumors are also very rare and have a U.S. incidence of approximately 0.00003 % amongst the population.

  • Like HCC and Gallbladder tumors, pancreatic tumors share similar presenting symptoms such as abdominal pain, lower back pain, and jaundice.

  • Colorectal cancers are the most common gastrointestinal cancers and are the 4th most common of all cancers. The occurrence of colorectal cancers has been primarily attributed to a diet high in animal fat and low in fiber.

  • Anal Cancer is often related to HPV (human papillomavirus) infection. This type of cancer is very responsive to chemotherapy and radiation. Surgery is rarely used.


Gynecological cancers are cancers of the female reproductive system, including the cervix, vulva, uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and vagina. Over the past two decades, significant improvements have been made in detecting and treating gynecological cancers.

Doctor showing uterus
  • Endometrial (or Uterine) cancer– The most common cancer appearing in the female genital tract in the United States. It includes several types of malignancies originating from the uterus's inner lining, also known as the endometrium. Common risk factors include high estrogen levels, obesity, hypertension, endometrial hyperplasia, and hypertension.

  • Cervical cancer– The second most common cancer in women, and studies have shown that it is associated with smoking. Early detection of cervical cancer includes Pap smear screening. HPV (human papillomavirus) is the most significant risk factor associated with cervical cancer. Recently, the FDA has approved vaccinations for HPV, which may decrease the incidence of cervical cancer.

  • Vulvar cancer– The least common of all gynecological cancers, it primarily affects elderly women and accounts for less than 5% of all gynecological cancers. HPV has shown a correlation with the incidence of vulvar cancer.

  • Ovarian cancer– Disease has correlated with increased incidence in more industrialized nations. Also, the risk of developing ovarian cancer increases with age and decreases with the number of pregnancies.


Head and neck cancer spans a broad field of oncology and includes cancerous tumors in areas of the head and neck and is different from brain cancer. Head and neck cancer generally develops from smoking and drinking. However, certain viruses have been implicated in its development. Head and neck cancers originate from the nasopharynx, nasal cavity, oropharynx, oral cavity, salivary glands, larynx, hypopharynx, and thyroid. 


Since surgery presents a significant risk to critical structures in this area afflicted with cancer, radiation therapy is often the first choice for treatment, in conjunction with chemotherapy. Most head and neck cancers are very responsive to chemotherapy along with radiation.


The oncologists at Rio Bravo Cancer Center are committed to delivering radiation that minimizes damage to the healthy surrounding tissue when it comes to radiation therapy. We utilize only the newest, most precise, cancer-fighting radiation therapies to help our patients fight their head and neck cancer.


Cutting-edge therapies such as Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) and Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) enable our team of cancer specialists to deliver higher doses of accurately targeted radiation to the cancerous head and neck tumors while sparing nearby healthy tissue.

Patient care
  • Nasopharyngeal cancer is prevalent in Asian countries and is caused by EBV (Epstein-Barr Virus)

  • Oropharyngeal cancers are now commonly caused by HPV (Human Papilloma Virus), the prognosis of these cancers is much better than cancers caused by smoking and drinking

  • HPV associated oropharyngeal cancers commonly affect younger patients

  • Most cancers are of the squamous cell carcinoma histology – these are very responsive to chemotherapy and radiation

digital graphic of lungs


Abnormal proliferation of the cells is the basic definition of cancer. When this primary incidence occurs in the lung, this is known as primary lung cancer, as opposed to metastasis (spread from another cancer in the body to the lung). The majority of lung cancers are carcinomas that arise from epithelial cells. The two main types of lung cancer are NSCLC (Non-Small Cell Lung Carcinomas) and SCLC (Small Cell Lung Carcinomas).

  • Possible symptoms of lung cancer include dyspnea (shortness of breath), hemoptysis (blood in cough), and loss of weight.

  • Most common cause of lung cancer is due to extensive use of tobacco smoke (including second-hand smoke)

  • Other common causes may include exposure to asbestos, polluted environments, radon gas, and several genetic factors

  • Treatment usually involves a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy


Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among American men, and it is the second leading cause of death from cancer in men. It occurs when cells in the prostate gland mutate and multiply very rapidly. Prostate cancer often stays confined to the area for several years, but it may metastasize or spread to other body areas such as the bone.


Treating prostate cancer with traditional radiation therapy can be difficult. Older means of radiation delivery exposed nearby healthy organs to damage. At Rio Bravo Cancer Center, we are proud to offer only the most cutting-edge radiation treatments available to treat your prostate cancer specifically.


At Rio Bravo Cancer Center, we proudly provide Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) and Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT). These technologically advanced radiation treatments allow our team of expert radiation oncologists to deliver higher doses of precisely focused radiation to cancerous tumors within the prostate while sparing nearby healthy tissue. Numerous studies have shown clinically similar cure rates with radiation therapy versus traditional surgery for prostate cancer treatment. Radiation therapy also has fewer side effects than surgery, such as urinary incontinence and sexual dysfunction.


Rio Bravo Cancer Center also offers the SpaceOAR rectal spacer. This technology dramatically reduces the chance of injury to the rectum from radiation. Now patients can benefit by having their prostate cancer cured with minimal side effects to the body.


When you’re fighting prostate cancer, Rio Bravo Cancer Center will be your strongest ally, standing beside you with the only objective of helping you to defeat your prostate cancer safely.

prostate cancer ribbon
  • Measurement of the prostate gland by a transrectal ultrasound exam may be helpful to determine the extent of the disease. On the other hand, this exam may not give any valuable information to the physician if the patient has a known metastatic disease. Therefore, it is not always performed.

  • If a transrectal ultrasound exam is done, it is performed by the physician. The prostate gland is measured for size and shape. This information is recorded. The radiation oncologist and medical radiation physicist will use this information to plan your radiation treatment.

  • If the prostate gland measured is large or if you have more aggressive prostate cancer, the urologist or radiation oncologist may give a medication to block testosterone production. This will stop the tumor growth and decrease the size of the prostate gland. The medicine may be given for either a short-term or long-term basis.

  • A smaller gland will lead to a safer (fewer complications) treatment course, and we now feel that a course of anti-testosterone therapy enhances the overall cure rate. Unfortunately, there are some side effects to this medication. This can include hot flashes, lack of sexual drive, fatigue, and muscle weakness. They are temporary and resolve after the medication wears off.


Approximately 5% of Americans will be affected by colorectal cancer in their lifetime. Fortunately, when colorectal cancer is diagnosed early, the chance of curing the cancer through a comprehensive cancer treatment program -which includes radiation therapy-is as high as 90%.


The successful treatment of colorectal cancer will generally require surgery, followed by a comprehensive radiation therapy program to ensure any remaining cancer cells are destroyed. However, in successfully treating colorectal cancer via radiation therapy, damage to healthy surrounding tissue must be minimized.

The radiation oncologists at Rio Bravo Cancer Center rely on only the most advanced radiation therapies available to treat colorectal cancer. Utilizing Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) and Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT), our cancer specialists can deliver the higher doses necessary to kill colorectal cancer cells with astonishing precision. That means that our expert team of oncologists, dosimetrists, and physicists will customize a personal radiation treatment plan which will target your cancer only while minimizing damage to surrounding tissue.

Patient care


Skin cancer occurs when the cells in the skin are damaged and grow uncontrollably. The epidermis (the top layer of the skin) goes through a general cell cycle, which involves the division, maturation, death, and eventual sloughing of the cells. A normal healthy skin cell cycle involves eventual repairs to damaged cells that promote skin growth and healthy division. If the body cannot successfully repair damaged skin cells, the normal process is interrupted, and cells will uncontrollably divide and grow. This damage is usually due to long-term sun exposure. Skin cancers can spread to other parts of the body.

  • Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States.

  • Approximately one million Americans get diagnosed with skin cancer every year.

  • It has been known that 1 in 5 Americans and roughly 1 in 3 Caucasians will develop skin cancer throughout their life.

  • The leading cause of skin cancer is overexposure to the sun, and anyone who has experienced more than five sunburns is twice as likely to develop skin cancer.


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