What is Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is one of the most common treatments for cancer. It uses special equipment to aim high doses of radiation at cancer cells. This damages the cancer cells and causes them to die.

Radiation therapy can be a highly effective method of treating different cancer types including cancer of the bladder, brain, head and neck, lung, breast, prostate, skin, rectum, stomach, testicles, cervix and uterus, among others. It may also be used to combat lymphoma and sarcoma. Radiation therapy can be given alone or used with other treatments, such as surgery or chemotherapy.

Unlike chemotherapy, which exposes the whole body to cancer-fighting drugs, radiation therapy is usually a local treatment. It targets only the part of the body being treated. The goal of radiation treatment is to damage as many cancer cells as possible, with little harm to nearby healthy tissue.

One of the reasons referring physicians recommend Inter-Community Hospital is because they know we offer the latest, most sophisticated radiation therapy planning and delivery systems. This ensures that you and your Radiation Oncologist can choose the best treatment option given your type of cancer, its stage and location. Why is this so important? The more precisely we can target your tumor site, the lower the risk of side effects and the chance of a recurrence.

When is radiation therapy used?

Radiation therapy can be used alone or as part of a cancer treatment plan that may also include surgery, chemotherapy, hormonal or biological therapies. It may be used in an effort to cure the cancer, or to treat unpleasant symptoms the cancer is causing; such as pain or bleeding.

Depending on the type of radiation therapy technology used, patients may receive treatment in a single session or through a series of visits over a period that can last anywhere from one to eight weeks.

Types of Radiation Therapy

There are two basic types of radiation therapy: External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT) and Brachytherapy. With EBRT, the radiation is delivered from outside of the body using one of several different types of radiation systems. For patients undergoing Brachytherapy, a radioactive source is temporarily or permanently placed near the tumor site or in a cavity left by a tumor that has been surgically removed.

Regardless of whether you and your Radiation Oncologist choose a form of External Beam Radiation Therapy or Brachytherapy, the primary objective of these increasingly sophisticated radiation therapy systems is to deliver as much radiation as possible — for maximum effectiveness — while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue and possible side effects.