TYPES OF RADIATION THERAPY
Specialized Therapies For Individualized Care
External Beam Radiation Therapy
During external beam radiation therapy, a beam (or multiple beams) of radiation is directed through the skin to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. To minimize side effects, the treatments are typically given five days a week, Monday through Friday, for several weeks. This allows enough radiation to be delivered to kill the cancer, while allowing normal healthy cells time to recover. Each daily treatment takes approximately 10 to 20 minutes. From the patient's perspective, the daily process is very similar to getting a routine diagnostic x-ray; it is a short outpatient visit, the patient does not feel the radiation, and the patient only needs to relax during the treatment.
The radiation beam is generated by a machine called a linear accelerator. The linear accelerator, or linac, produces high-energy X-rays for the treatment of your cancer. Using advanced treatment planning computers and software, the team at Southeast Radiation Oncology Center designs the size and shape of each beam, as well as how it is directed at your body, to most effectively treat your tumor while sparing the surrounding normal tissue.
Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy
Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy, or IMRT, is a specialized form of radiation therapy. Each radiation beam is broken up into many “beamlets,” and the radiation intensity of each beamlet can be adjusted individually. IMRT enables us to shape the radiation dose to conform even more precisely around a tumor that is irregularly shaped or in close proximity to adjacent critical organs. Using IMRT, it may be possible to further reduce the amount of radiation received by healthy tissue near the tumor. In some situations, this may also safely allow a higher dose of radiation to be delivered to the tumor, potentially increasing the chance of a cure while minimizing side effects.
Image Guided Radiation Therapy
Our center utilizes IGRT (Image Guided Radiation Therapy) to help ensure that each radiation treatment is delivered with the utmost accuracy. The position of tumors can move between treatments due to organ motion such as lung breathing or bladder filling. IGRT guides the radiation treatment by daily imaging using x-rays or cone-beam CT, taken in the treatment room just before each radiation treatment is administered. Even small differences of less than one millimeter can be detected and adjusted accordingly. IGRT enables us to accurately localize and target the tumor with each radiation treatment.
Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy
SBRT is one of the most advanced forms of radiation therapy available for cancer patients. SBRT incorporates a specially designed mapping system that tracks the exact location of the target tumor with pinpoint accuracy. This technology allows our physicians to treat targeted areas with high doses of radiation in fewer treatments, while damaging less healthy tissue. With conventional radiation therapy, radiation is delivered in relatively small doses over the course of several weeks, usually for five days per week. Most SBRT patients receive only one to five treatments over the course of several days (some patients may require a few more). SBRT can be used to treat small tumors that cannot be removed surgically or treated with conventional radiation therapy. Patients with tumors that are small and few in number are the best candidates for SBRT. For patients with small lung tumors who are not candidates for surgery due to tumor size or location or other factors, SBRT may be an option.
*Some content provided by the American Society for Radiation Oncology and/or Elekta Oncology.