Leading-edge and experienced radiation therapy for cancer.
The treatment you receive for your cancer depends on a number of different factors, from your individual genetic makeup to the type and stage of cancer to the specifics of your health, age, treatment goals, etc. Quite often, cancer treatment consists of more than just one modality in order to deliver the most complete anti-cancer effect.
In this “multi-modality” approach, radiation therapy is commonly used in conjunction with surgery and chemotherapy. In some cases, radiation therapy may be used on its own.
Radiation: A longstanding, effective treatment for cancer.
Radiation therapy for cancer is a longstanding, extremely well-studied treatment that has been used effectively for many decades. Like chemotherapy, radiation works by damaging cancer cells. With faulty DNA, the cancer cells do not recover as well as normal cells, which have normal DNA and can recover and reproduce much better. The goal of radiation treatment is to kill the cancer cells, shrink tumors and maximize the chances for cure. Another goal is to minimize the collateral effects of treating the body with ionized radiation.
Fighting cancer with all types of radiation treatment.
There are many different types of radiation therapy. The exact type, frequency and duration of treatment that will be most appropriate and effective for you or your loved one is also dependent on those various factors (cancer type, cancer stage, patient health, treatment goals). Radiation therapy can be used to reduce symptoms even when cure of the underlying cancer is not possible. Here are the most common forms of radiotherapy in use today:
External-beam radiation therapy
Treating cancer from outside the body using a beam of ionizing radiation has evolved a great deal over the decades. Initially, the beam was pointed directly at the area of the body inside which the tumor was located. It then evolved to conform to the exact shape and size of the tumor (called 3D conformal radiotherapy), a step made possible by the 3D imaging of CT scans. External radiotherapy then evolved into intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), which made the beam even more conformal to the shape and size of the tumor. Later image guidance was added to further improve the precision of external beam radiation. External-beam radiation therapy typically lasts 6 to 8 weeks.
Brachytherapy is a form of radiation therapy that involves placing the radiation directly onto or into the tumor. The most common form of brachytherapy is used to treat prostate cancer. This is done by placing very small radioactive seeds directly into the prostate. This allows the radiation oncologist to give a large dose of radiation to the prostate while minimizing the radiation to healthy tissue. Brachytherapy can also be used to treatment other types of cancer as well.
Certain types of cancer respond best to high doses of radiation given over short periods of time. This type of radiation therapy is called radiosurgery. Here at the START Center, we use a state-of-the-art machine called a CyberKnife to deliver high doses over a few days. These treatments typically last about one hour, with patients receiving just one to five treatments. This type of treatment can be used for cancer involving the lung, prostate, brain and other locations in the body.
About the side effects of radiation therapy.
Radiation therapy does come with unpleasant side effects, but they can usually be well controlled or treated. The most common side effects of radiation therapy (but not radiosurgery) include:
- Skin reactions (radiation dermatitis)
- Decrease in white blood cell counts
- Loss of appetite
Trust leaders in radiation therapy in South Texas.
At the START Center for Cancer Care in San Antonio, our radiation oncologists provide the highly trained, highly experienced care that is essential to effective and appropriate radiation treatment. We offer the full range of radiation therapies and the expertise necessary to develop the most effective and appropriate treatment plan for each individual. Plus, we are dedicated to providing not only the highest standard of care but also the compassion and personalized attention and service that have helped make us a local leader in cancer treatment… and an international leader in striving toward the cure.
For more information, or to schedule an appointment with a START Center cancer specialist, call 210-593-5700. Or request an appointment using our easy online form.