What Is Radiation Therapy?
Radiation therapy is a powerful tool in the war against cancer, along with chemotherapy and surgery. It works by inflicting irreversible damage to the cancer cells' DNA, which destroys their ability to reproduce. Normal healthy cells are able to repair DNA damage that might be caused by the radiation exposure, but cancer cells cannot.
A cancer patient may be treated with radiation alone or in conjunction with chemotherapy and/or surgery. When radiation therapy is only part of a patient's treatment, it is called "adjuvant treatment." By treating a patient with radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy, the oncology team may make it possible for a patient to avoid surgery or have less radical surgery than would otherwise be required. After the surgical removal of a cancerous mass, radiation can be used (with or without chemotherapy) to kill very small deposits of cancer that cannot be seen and removed during surgery.Targeted Treatments
Radiation therapy can be delivered in two ways:
External beam radiation therapy (EBRT), in which the radiation is generated by technology outside the patient's body. External beam radiation therapy uses a linear accelerator to focus powerful beams of X-rays to kill cancer cells. These X-rays interact with the atoms of living cells in a different way than the X-rays used to detect broken bones or dental problems. They are just as painless, however. These treatment X-rays are carefully focused to inflict lethal damage to the tumors while minimizing any injury to the surrounding normal tissues. The following forms of EBRT are offered at CentraState:
- 3D Conformal Therapy
- IMRT (Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy)
- Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS)
- IGRT (Image-Guided Radiation Therapy)
Brachytherapy or internal radiation therapy, in which radioactive sources are directly implanted either temporarily or permanently in or around the tumor itself. Internal radiation therapy allows the doctor to give a higher total dose of radiation in a shorter time than is possible with external treatment. One form of brachytherapy is radiation seed implantation. Another is high dose rate (HDR) radiation therapy. Both are available at CentraState.
Our dedicated radiation oncology facility houses an advanced linear accelerator for external beam radiation therapy, a specialized CT (computed tomography) simulator, and state-of-the-art three-dimensional computer planning equipment. The technology allows our radiation oncologists to design treatments that specifically target the area while limiting the exposure of normal areas to radiation.
To contact the Radiation Oncology Department at CentraState Medical Center, call (732) 303-5290.