The use of high-energy radiation to destroy cancer cells is a common cancer treatment known as radiation therapy. Radiation therapy can be used independently or with other treatments like surgery and chemotherapy.
The underlying mechanism of radiation therapy involves damaging cancer cell DNA, which hinders its ability to grow and multiply. However, the different types of radiation therapy have distinct advantages and disadvantages. Let’s explore the three primary types of radiation therapy and their potential applications.
1. External Beam Radiation Therapy
The most prevalent type of radiation therapy is external beam radiation therapy, which utilizes a linear accelerator to direct high-energy radiation beams from outside the body to the cancerous area. This treatment aims to minimize damage to healthy tissues while focusing on the tumor. External beam radiation therapy is typically administered daily over several weeks.
External beam radiation therapy is beneficial for treating a broad range of cancers, including breast, lung, and prostate cancer. Nonetheless, it may cause side effects like fatigue, skin irritation, and nausea. The severity of the side effects depends on the treatment’s duration and dosage, as well as the patient’s overall health.
At the Cancer and Blood Disorders Treatment and Infusion Center, cancer specialists examine your medical history to determine suitable treatment options and minimize side effects.
Brachytherapy, also known as internal radiation therapy, involves placing small radioactive sources directly into or near the tumor. Brachytherapy allows a high dose of radiation to be delivered to the cancerous area while minimizing exposure to healthy tissues. This type of radiotherapy can be delivered using various techniques, including temporary implants, permanent implants, or a radiation source placed directly into the tumor.
One advantage of brachytherapy is that it can be completed in a shorter period than external beam radiation therapy, sometimes in just a few days. Additionally, the side effects are typically less severe since the radiation is localized to the tumor. Brachytherapy is commonly used to treat gynecological, prostate, and breast cancer.
3. Systemic Radiation Therapy
Systemic radiation therapy, also known as radiopharmaceutical therapy, uses radioactive substances that are injected into the bloodstream or swallowed. The radioactive substance travels throughout the body, targeting cancer cells wherever they may be.
Systemic radiation therapy is effective for treating cancers that have spread to multiple sites, such as metastatic prostate cancer, thyroid cancer, and certain types of lymphomas. It can also help to relieve pain and other symptoms caused by cancer that has spread to the bones.
Systemic radiation therapy can cause side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, and fatigue, but these are usually temporary and can be managed with medication.
Visit the Cancer and Blood Disorders Treatment & Infusion Center for Radiation Therapy Treatment
Our doctors are highly trained to provide our patients with the best care. We review the patient’s clinical history and refer you to a radiation specialist. At the Cancer and Blood Disorders Treatment and Infusion Center, we treat all types of cancers and collaborate with other hospitals to get second opinions on cases seen by other specialists. Reach us at 301-638-1007 or fill out our online contact us form to schedule an appointment with a specialist and start your treatment.