Radiation therapy comes in a variety of formats – from both outside and /or inside the body – depending on the type of cancer and the treatment options available.
Arizona Oncology offers extremely precise and non-invasive radiotherapy treatments that are designed to minimize damage to surrounding normal tissue, and allow patients to carry on with their lives with little interruption. Radiation therapy services are available throughout Phoenix and Tucson at our cancer treatment centers.
Your radiation oncologist is part of a team of cancer specialists that includes medical oncology, surgical oncology, reconstructive surgeons, pathologists, interventional radiologists, and genetic experts. Working together, they discuss your specific needs and create an individualized recommendation for how to use radiation therapy as a part of the overall cancer treatment process.
Radiation treatments are designed to target and destroy cancerous cells by preventing them from growing or dividing while minimizing adverse effects on nearby healthy organs and tissues.
External radiation therapy uses a beam of high-energy radiation from x-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Internal radiation treatment also called brachytherapy or high-dose brachytherapy places radioactive material in the body near cancer cells.
If you or a loved one will go through radiation therapy, you may want to read: What to Expect: What Happens Before, During and After Treatment?
Radiation Therapy Technologies
The type of radiation therapy that may be recommended is dependent on the type of cancer, stage of cancer and the patient’s overall health. All of the following radiation therapy treatments are available through the Arizona Oncology cancer treatment centers located in Phoenix and Southern Arizona including Tucson and Green Valley.
You may receive one or more of the following:
External Radiation Therapy
There are several types of machinery used to deliver radiation therapy from outside the body. They are:
Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT): A procedure that utilizes imaging capabilities right before the treatment beam is activated giving us the highest accuracy for targeting and thereby allowing us to use very tight/conformal fields helping to minimize normal tissue reactions. IGRT is not a treatment but it helps guide treatment. Options include 3D setups with X-rays, CT scans done on the treatment table and infrared camera systems.
Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT): This therapy uses sophisticated software and hardware to perform to deliver high doses of radiation to a tumor by approaching it from many differs angles or even in continuous arcs, while minimizing the amount of radiation to normal, surrounding tissues. The higher dose to the tumor can result in a higher possibility of cure, and the lower dose to surrounding tissue results in fewer side effects.
Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT): This therapy is a type of IMRT that utilizes more precise positioning and precisely deliver very high focal doses of radiation to tumors in the body (except the brain) given over 3-5 days instead of 6-8 weeks. This has it use most commonly in early lung cancers.
- Stereotactic Radiosurgery(SRS): A type of IMRT specific to the brain and spine that uses special equipment to position the patient and precisely deliver radiation to a tumor. The total dose of radiation is divided into several large doses given over 1-5 treatments.
Internal Radiation Therapy
- High Dose Rate Brachytherapy (HDR): This therapy uses a radioactive source that is placed inside the body part to be treated. Then, a high dose of radiation is given to a limited area, sparing the surrounding normal tissue. HDR brachytherapy lasts only a few minutes in the outpatient setting and causes a little discomfort, fewer complications, and more rapid recovery time.
Types of cancer that are often treated with high-dose radiation include:
- SpaceOAR Hydrogel: Placed between the prostate and rectum, SpaceOAR Hydrogel reduces rectal injury in men receiving prostate cancer radiation therapy (RT) with IMRT or Brachytherapy by acting as a spacer – pushing the rectum away from the prostate, out of the high dose radiation region.
Currently, this new, state-of-the-art treatment is only being done by Curtis Mack, MD in Southern Arizona.