What is Radiation Therapy?

What is Radiation Therapy?

Radiation therapy usually referred to as radiotherapy, is a popular form of cancer treatment that employs high-energy radiation to eradicate cancer cells. Combining this non-invasive procedure with other therapies like chemotherapy and surgery is common. Breast, lung, prostate, head and neck, and other malignancies can all be treated using radiation treatment. 

How Radiation Therapy Works

Radiation therapy works by damaging the DNA of cancer cells, which prevents them from dividing and eventually leads to their death. The radiation is delivered to the cancerous area of the body using a machine called a linear accelerator. The radiation can be delivered externally, using beams of radiation directed at cancer from a machine outside the body, or internally, using a small device placed inside the body close to cancer.

Radiation therapy’s goal is to expose cancer to a high dosage of radiation while exposing nearby healthy tissue to as little radiation as possible. This is accomplished by using cutting-edge imaging techniques, such as CT and MRI to create precise images of the malignancy and surrounding tissue. These images help to create a personalized treatment plan tailored to each patient’s requirements.

Types of Radiation Therapy

There are multiple kinds of radiation therapy, and each has advantages and disadvantages of its own. The most effective type of radiation therapy for any patient depends on the type and stage of cancer, treatment objectives, and the patient’s general health.

External Beam Radiation 

The most popular form of radiation therapy, external beam radiation, is delivered to the affected site from a machine outside the body.  It can be administered in many ways, including 3D conformal radiation treatment, intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), and image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT). This type of therapy is effective for treating a wide range of tumors. 

Internal Radiation (Brachytherapy)

Internal radiation involves placing small radioactive sources inside the body adjacent to the malignancy. It’s sometimes referred to as brachytherapy. Cervical, prostate, and breast cancers are the most common tumors treated with this type of radiation therapy. 

Stereotactic Radiation 

Stereotactic radiotherapy treats small, clearly defined tumors. It is a very accurate type of external beam radiation. To provide precise images of the malignant cells and surrounding tissue, this procedure uses cutting-edge imaging methods, including CT and MRI. As a result, the radiation oncologist can treat the cancer while exposing the surrounding healthy tissue to the least amount of radiation possible. 

Radiation therapy can cause some side effects, including fatigue, skin irritation, and changes in bowel or bladder habits. These side effects are usually temporary and can be managed with medications and other treatments.

Learn More About Radiation Therapy at Cancer and Blood Disorders Treatment & Infusion Center

At the Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, we understand the importance of providing comprehensive care to our patients. We coordinate with local radiation specialists in our area to provide the best treatment. If you or a loved one is facing a cancer diagnosis, we encourage you to explore all your treatment options, including radiation therapy. To learn more about the services offered at Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, please visit our website or give us a call at 301-638-1007 to schedule a consultation with one of our specialists.