About Radiation Therapy
Radiation Therapy treatments
- Outpatient procedure
- Accurately targets individual tumors
- Minimal radiation exposure to healthy tissue surrounding a tumor
At Alliance Cancer Care, we treat early-stage, recurrent, and advanced cancers using radiation therapy. Physicians have safely and effectively used radiation therapy to treat cancer for more than 100 years. It is a very common and highly successful cancer treatment. Radiation therapy used alone or along with other treatments often leads to cancer remission. In more advanced cancers, radiation may improve a patient’s quality or length of life.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy particles or waves to destroy or damage cancer cells. Radiation kills cancer cells or slows their growth by damaging their DNA. When the DNA is damaged beyond repair, the cell stops dividing or dies. Dead cells are broken down and removed by the body. Non-cancerous cells in the area can also be affected by radiation, but most recover and continue functioning normally.
Choosing Radiation Treatment
There are two main types of radiation therapy, external beam and internal. The type of radiation therapy that you may have depends on many factors, including:
- The type and stage of cancer
- The size and location of the tumor
- The distance between the tumor and radiation-sensitive normal tissues
- Your age, medical history, and general health
- Other factors, such as your overall treatment plan and your radiation oncologist's recommendations for you
Internal radiation therapy, also called brachytherapy, is a treatment in which a source of radiation is put inside your body. The radiation is usually sealed in a small container called an implant (often referred to as seeds, ribbons, or capsules) and placed in your body, in or near the tumor, harming as few normal cells as possible. Depending on your type of cancer and treatment plan, you might get a temporary or permanent implant. Like external beam radiation therapy, brachytherapy is a local treatment and treats only a specific part of your body.
External beam radiation therapy (EBRT) is the most common type of radiation therapy. Radiation is delivered from outside the body by a machine, called a linear accelerator or LINAC. The LINAC creates the radiation beam, and special computer software adjusts the beam’s size and shape, helping target the tumor and avoid healthy tissue near the cancer cells. EBRT is a local treatment, which means it treats a specific part of your body. For example, if the tumor is in your lung, the radiation will only be delivered to your chest.
Three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT)
3D-CRT is a common type of external beam radiation therapy. It delivers radiation beams from different directions designed to match the shape of the tumor, helping reduce radiation damage to normal tissues and better kill the cancer by focusing the radiation dose on the tumor’s exact shape and size.
Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT)
IGRT is where an image is done before each treatment to allow the radiation oncologist to adjust the patient's position.
Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
IMRT is like 3D-CRT but uses many smaller beams. Computer software can instruct individual beams to be weaker or stronger in some areas, giving a higher dose to the tumor and a lower dose to surrounding tissues, lessening damage to normal cells.
Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS)
SRS is the use of focused, high-energy beams to treat small tumors with well-defined edges in the brain and central nervous system.
Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT)
SBRT is similar to stereotactic radiosurgery, but it is used for small, isolated tumors outside the brain and spinal cord, often in the liver or lung.
Brachytherapy is a form of radiation therapy where a sealed radiation source is placed inside or next to the area requiring treatment.
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"From my first visit, I was confident the team at Alliance Cancer Care was going to use leading protocols to treat my cancer. I felt safe, cared for, and listened to when I had questions. Being close to home was key for me and my family so they could be with me throughout each appointment and treatment, Alliance made this possible."
- Stephanie D.