Radiation therapy is used to treat cancer by exposing the cancer cells to radiation and damaging their DNA. Radiation may be used alone or with other treatment options. Tissue cells respond differently to radiation and some organs are more susceptible to damage caused by the radiation than others. A radiation oncologist will schedule image scans to determine the location and size of the suspected tumor and then discuss your treatment plan. If you have previously received radiation therapy, then your physician will decide if that area can be treated a second time. This will depend on the amount of radiation you received and the location of the previous treatment.
There are several different types of radiation therapy a radiation oncologist may prescribe depending on the type and size of the cancer, its location in the body, and the overall health of the patient. The types of radiation therapy include:
- IGRT is image-guided radiation therapy, a technique which enables the Radiation Oncologist to locate the tumor before each dose of radiation therapy is delivered.
- IMRT is an image-guided radiation therapy which allows the Radiation Oncologist to pinpoint the radiation on the tumor. This technique spares more normal tissue exposed to radiation during treatment.
- MammoSite is designed for the treatment of early-stage breast cancer patients who meet certain criteria. This specialized treatment consists of 10 treatments within 5 days. MammoSite will deliver a high dose of radiation to the area most at risk for recurrence. In addition, it limits the radiation dose to the surrounding normal breast and adjacent tissues, potentially minimizing side effects.
- Prostate Brachytherapy is a treatment for early-stage prostate cancer. This procedure is an ultrasound-guided implantation of radioiodine seeds into the prostate. It is a one-time procedure and is performed on an outpatient basis and takes approximately 2 hours.