External Beam Radiation Therapy
During external beam radiation therapy, a beam (or multiple beams) of radiation is directed through the skin to the cancer and the immediate surrounding area in order to destroy the main tumor and any nearby cancer cells. To minimize side effects, the treatments are typically given five days a week, Monday through Friday, for a number of weeks. This allows doctors to get enough radiation into the body to kill the cancer while giving healthy cells time to recover.
The radiation beam is usually generated by a machine called a linear accelerator or linac. The linear accelerator is capable of producing high energy X-rays or electrons for the treatment of your cancer. Using treatment planning computers and software, your treatment team controls the size and shape of the beam, as well as how it is directed at your body, to effectively treat your tumor whiles paring the surrounding normal tissue.
Our physicians have access to and expertise in several specialized types of external beam radiation therapy, including:
- 3-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT),
- intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT),
- proton beam therapy,
- neutron beam therapy and
- image guided radiation therapy (IGRT)
Each of these therapies is used for specific types of cancer, and your radiation oncologist will recommend one of these treatments if he or she believes it will help you.