Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy x-rays that target specific cancer sites. Radiation may be used to destroy cancer cells, relieve symptoms associated with cancer and/or prevent the cancer from returning. Your treatment is custom-tailored and unique to your diagnosis, tumor size, location and involvement. Your radiation oncologist (a doctor who specializes in treating cancer with radiation) will review all available treatment options and recommend a personalized plan for you based on national guidelines, which guide all cancer treatments. Radiation therapy is used either alone or in combination with other treatments such as chemotherapy, hyperthermia and surgery.
Different types of radiation – such as 3D CRT (3-Dimensional Conformal Radiation Therapy), IGRT (Image-Guided Radiation Therapy), IMRT (Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy), Partial Breast Irradiation, Prostate Seeds and HDR (High-Dose Radiation Therapy), as well as radiopharmaceuticals – are used to treat specific types of cancers.
Radiation can be delivered either from outside the body with a machine called a linear accelerator (external beam radiation) or from a radiation source implanted permanently or temporarily in the body (brachytherapy).