Alternatives to Radiation Therapy for Cancer

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Alternatives to Radiation Therapy for Cancer

Radiation therapy is a widely-used form of cancer treatment. It works to destroy tumor cells, shrink tumors and alleviate symptoms related to cancer such as pain or pressure.

Radiation kills cancer cells by damaging their genetic material, which prevents them from reproducing. Once this takes place, the body naturally rids itself of these dead cells.

However, radiation can also damage normal cells near the cancer. Over time, damaged DNA in these normal cells is repaired – an effective measure that helps keep the cancer from spreading or developing into new tumors.

Alternative therapies employ radioactive materials (radioactive seeds, ribbons or capsules) to deliver radiation directly to tumors inside the body. This technique, called brachytherapy, has proven more successful at curing some cancers than conventional radiation which involves beaming radiation from a distance.

Brachytherapy utilizes tiny radioactive seeds the size of a grain of rice or slightly larger to target your tumor with high doses of radiation. This type of treatment can be especially helpful for certain cancers such as breast or prostate cancer.

Other alternatives to radiation therapy include intraoperative radiation therapy, which delivers radiation directly onto a targeted tumor during surgery. This technique is commonly employed during mastectomy or breast biopsy procedures.

Image-guided radiation therapy, or IGRT for short, allows doctors to precisely target your tumor while administering radiation. This more precise treatment reduces exposure of healthy tissue to unnecessary radiation while improving tumor survival rates.

Intensity-modulated radiation therapy, or IMRT, is another technique that delivers higher doses of radiation to tumors while protecting nearby tissues and organs. It works by using a computer program to adjust the angle and location of the beam’s path.

Respiratory gating is another technique that adjusts the radiation beam to accommodate for breathing during treatment, helping prevent any movement of the tumor if it’s located in your lungs or abdomen.

At LCRP, the TrueBeam system offers powerful image-guided radiation therapy for tumor treatments with pinpoint accuracy and pinpoint precision. This technology allows radiation doses to conform more closely to the three-dimensional shape of a tumor, reducing side effects and improving patient comfort.

Stereotactic body radiation therapy, or SBRT for short, is a minimally invasive procedure that uses precisely focused high-dose radiation to treat cancers in the head, neck, chest, lung, spine and liver. The therapy can be delivered over one to five treatments.

Other radiation techniques, such as brachytherapy and stereotactic radiosurgery, are less invasive alternatives that may be successful for certain cancers. When combined with chemotherapy or immunotherapy, they can improve outcomes and alleviate cancer-related symptoms.

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