What is radiation therapy?
Radiation therapy is a form of cancer treatment that uses radiation to help kill cancer cells. It also helps keep cancer cells from dividing and growing. The radiation used for cancer treatment may come from a high energy machine called a linear accelerator or it may come from radioactive material placed in the body near the tumor. Your physician may use radiation therapy in conjunction with surgery or chemotherapy to treat cancer. A radiation oncologist will select the type of therapy best suited for your type of cancer.
Radiation therapy treatment options
As a patient at the Parkview Cancer Institute, you have a variety of treatment options to fit your healthcare needs. These treatments include, but are not limited to:
- Parkview is home to the region’s only CyberKnife®. This cancer-fighting technology delivers targeted radiation to difficult-to-reach areas of the body, including the spine, brain, liver, and other areas. CyberKnife can often eliminate or deactivate tumors with fewer treatments than required by other methods. Only five or fewer CyberKnife treatments are needed compared to as many as 40 conventional radiation treatments. Patients experience virtually no recovery period and no side effects. CyberKnife also reduces the risk of complications, infections and blood loss. This treatment option is a powerful weapon in the fight against cancer.
- Stereotactic radiosurgery is a noninvasive, bloodless procedure performed in an outpatient setting. Oncologists and neurosurgeons work together to treat lesions in the brain, including tumors and vascular malformations.
- Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), one of the most precise and sophisticated radiotherapy treatments in the world, is used to treat tumors that might have been considered untreatable in the past due to the close proximity of other vital organs. IMRT uses computer-generated images to plan and then deliver precision-focused radiation beams to cancerous tumors. This treatment minimizes harm to surrounding healthy tissue. IMRT may be used to treat patients with prostate, head and neck, brain, pancreatic and other cancers. IMRT can be a noninvasive alternative to surgery and is usually done on an outpatient basis. Parkview was the first cancer center in the region to use IMRT.
- Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) is a highly accurate imaging process performed prior to radiation therapy treatment. The process involves obtaining radiographic images of the patient’s tumor site each day, then comparing these images to those acquired in the treatment planning process. The process ensures accurate placement of the treatment fields on a daily basis. IGRT is used primarily in the treatment of head and neck cancers, as well as some pelvic tumors.
- External beam therapy consists of high-energy X-ray radiation delivered externally by a linear accelerator. The radiation passes through the skin to the targeted tissue.
- High- and low-dose-rate brachytherapy delivers radiation directly to a tumor through applicators and catheters (tubes), thus protecting healthy surrounding tissue.
- Intraoperative radiation therapy is a method of delivering radiation to a tumor during surgery.
- Prostate seed implants are a form of radiation therapy in which permanent, radioactive “seeds” are placed inside the prostate. The encapsulated sources emit low-energy radiation that destroys the cancer while leaving other organs undamaged.
CyberKnife® is a Trademark of Accuracy Inc.