Expert physicians in radiation oncology at UCBC treat patients who have a wide variety of cancers. Radiation oncologists work closely with medical oncologists, surgeons, and other doctors to coordinate the most appropriate care for you. Radiation therapy uses carefully targeted and regulated doses of high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells. Radiation causes some cancer cells to die immediately after treatment, but most die or become incapacitated as a result of the radiation-induced damage to the cancer cell’s chromosomes and DNA.
There are several types of radiation therapy
1. External beam radiation therapy uses a machine outside your body aims radiation where your cancer is. The device can move around you to point the radiation at a precise part of your body from different directions. It won’t touch you.
2. Internal radiation therapy is where your physician puts a solid or liquid radiation source inside your body.
Your doctor may suggest a type of internal radiation therapy called Brachytherapy. In this procedure, the radiation source is in a capsule or other implant item. Doctors often use an applicator or a slim, stretchy catheter tube to put the implant in or near your cancer. The radiation source may stay inside your body for just a few minutes, several days, or longer.
Your physician may also suggest another kind of internal radiation therapy called Systemic Radiation. This type of radiation uses radioactive drugs, called radiopharmaceuticals, that can be given by mouth or put into a vein. Although these drugs travel through your whole body, they can find and collect in places where the cancer cells are located. This helps them deliver radiation doses exactly to the tumor or area where the cancer cells are found.
Uses with Other Cancer Treatments
- You may only get radiation therapy to treat your cancer or your doctor may combine it with surgery, chemotherapy, or immunotherapy.
- Depending on your diagnosis, your doctor can give you radiation therapy before surgery to make your tumor smaller. You could also have it after surgery to stop the cancer from coming back.
- On occasion, radiation therapy happens before chemotherapy. Other times, it’s combined with chemo.