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How Oncologists Use Radiation Therapy to Treat a Variety of Cancers

How Oncologists Use Radiation Therapy to Treat a Variety of Cancers

Oct 15, 2020

Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that targets fast-dividing cancer cells to slow their growth or damage them beyond repair. More than half of all cancer patients will undergo radiotherapy, either as their primary treatment or in conjunction with other treatments, like chemotherapy or surgery.

How Radiation Therapy Works

There are two main types of radiation therapy: external beam and internal.

External Beam Radiation Therapy

This type of radiotherapy involves using a machine to send radiation directly to cancerous cells from multiple directions. This allows radiation oncologists to focus the treatment on the cancer itself and spare healthy tissue. Doctors use external beam radiation therapy to treat many types of cancer.

Internal Radiation Therapy

Internal radiation therapy involves placing a source of radiation — either solid or liquid — inside your body.

There are two types of internal radiotherapy:

  • Brachytherapy, in which an oncologist uses a solid source like capsules or wires, often to treat cancers of the head and neck, prostate, cervix, and breast
  • Systemic therapy, in which they use a liquid source administered through ingestion, IV, or injection, often to treat cancers of the thyroid, prostate, and bone

Like external beam radiotherapy, brachytherapy can localize treatment to a specific part of your body. Systemic therapy, on the other hand, travels throughout your body via blood circulation to reach cancer cells.

Why Your Oncologist May Recommend Radiotherapy

Your doctor may use radiation therapy for the following purposes:

  1. To treat early-stage cancer
  2. To prevent cancer from recurring elsewhere
  3. To alleviate symptoms of advanced cancer
  4. To treat cancer that has recurred

Since every patient’s case is unique, our radiation oncologists create personalized treatment plans based on the best approach to reach the best outcome.

Now is the time to learn more about cancer treatment options available to you, close to home. The St. Joseph Health Cancer Center in Bryan, Texas, offers the most advanced diagnostics and clinical treatments available, all performed by board-certified oncologists, radiologists, and surgeons.

“We will individualize your care,” says Dr. Jamie Pawlowski, radiation oncologist. “We will treat you like a family member — applying cutting-edge technology in cancer care and groundbreaking studies. And all of that makes for excellent cancer outcomes.”

NIH | Radiation Therapy for Cancer
American Cancer Society | How Radiation Therapy Is Used to Treat Cancer