Radiation therapy applies high levels of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing and dividing while minimizing damage to healthy cells.
Radiation therapy is delivered in many different ways depending upon the type of cancer and the stage of treatment. The following are the types of radiation treatment we provide:
EBRT or External Beam Radiation Therapy
EBRT or External Beam Radiation Therapy uses machines known as linear accelerators to beam radiation which delivers dosage deep onto the area of the body where the cancer is located. The use of EBRT machines has significantly reduced side effects and modern state-of-the-art equipment has vastly improved the ability to deliver radiation. EBRT is usually given for approximately 6 to 8 weeks on an outpatient basis.
3D-CRT or Three-Dimensional Conformal Radiation Therapy
3D-CRT or Three-Dimensional Conformal Radiation Therapy is a method for delivering EBRT more precisely by using a special CT scan and computerized model. 3D-CRT promises to reduce the damage to tissues near the cancer. 3D-CRT is being tested to determine if higher doses can be given safely with higher outcomes.
IMRT or Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy
IMRT or Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy allows radiation oncologists to customize dose varying the amount of radiation given to different parts of the area being treated. It is an advanced form of 3-D conformal radiation therapy. Computer controlled moveable “leaves” adjust the radiation intensity so that more radiation can be delivered to the tumor while normal cells nearby receive less.
IGRT of Image-Guided Radiation Therapy
IGRT of Image-Guided Radiation Therapy involves imaging during the course of treatment allowing more accurate delivery of radiation. Images taken during the planning phase of treatment are compared to images taken during treatment. Sometimes the location of the cancer may shift in a patient’s body and this treatment allows better accuracy of the radiation delivery. IGRT is often used along with EBRT, 3D-CRT or IMRT.
IORT or Intraoperative Radiation Therapy
IORT or Intraoperative Radiation Therapy refers to radiation treatment which is delivered during a surgical procedure. This treatment has been made more available since the development of mobile IORT units which allow treatment to be delivered directly in the operating room. Now the patient no longer must be transferred from the surgical area to the radiation treatment area. There are two types of IORT, electron beam therapy and brachytherapy (discussed below). The choice of which type of IORT is used depends upon the nature of the cancer and the facilities available.
Brachytherapy is internal radiation, sometimes referred to as “seeds” or “implants.” In brachytherapy, radioactive material is placed directly into or near the cancer. Brachytherapy may be used alone or along with external beam radiation therapy. The seeds or implants may be permanent or temporary. Brachytherapy has been effective in the treatment of several types of cancer such as prostate, cervix, uterus, vagina, head and neck and breast.
Women with breast cancer who choose breast conservation rather than a mastectomy may benefit from Breast Brachytherapy. After the removal of the tumor in a process called a lumpectomy, radiation may be administered using traditional EBRT which typically takes 5 to 6 weeks of treatment. Sometimes it is possible to reduce this treatment time down to as little as 2 to 3 days by using breast brachytherapy. Because of its short duration, women who do not wish to undergo 6 to 8 weeks of EBRT in breast conservation treatment find this an attractive option.
SRS or Stereotactic Radiosurgery
SRS or Stereotactic Radiosurgery is delivered on an outpatient basis and delivers a high dose of radiation to a highly defined target. It is a non-invasive procedure used for treatment of brain tumors, arteriovenous malformation and other conditions.