4 doctors weighed in:

What different types of radiation therapy are there? My mom is going through some radiation therapy, I am curious to how many different types are out there and what are the pros and cons

4 doctors weighed in
Dr. Daniel Landis
Radiation Oncology
2 doctors agree

In brief: This

This is a huge topic of discussion and there are entire textbooks on different types of radiation.
In terms of therapeutically used radiation here in the us, the majority of the radiation is photon beam. These are high-energy x-rays. Electrons are also used commonly, often when needing to treat an area close to the skin (a scar or a skin cancer). Neutrons are used in very rare circumstances in a few locations in the us, for rare tumors. Protons are available in some cities - which are beneficial for some rare pediatric tumors or rare eye tumors in that the beam can be shaped and directed a bit more conformally. Some are using protons for other cancers, and this is debated often in our field. This is partly because it is a very expensive treatment and in some cases data showing a benefit is not present. Gamma rays are a type of photon beam. There are different brand names and vendors of radiation machines, which can add to confusion as well - for example gammaknife, cyberknife, tomotherapy, are all types of photon beam radiation.

In brief: This

This is a huge topic of discussion and there are entire textbooks on different types of radiation.
In terms of therapeutically used radiation here in the us, the majority of the radiation is photon beam. These are high-energy x-rays. Electrons are also used commonly, often when needing to treat an area close to the skin (a scar or a skin cancer). Neutrons are used in very rare circumstances in a few locations in the us, for rare tumors. Protons are available in some cities - which are beneficial for some rare pediatric tumors or rare eye tumors in that the beam can be shaped and directed a bit more conformally. Some are using protons for other cancers, and this is debated often in our field. This is partly because it is a very expensive treatment and in some cases data showing a benefit is not present. Gamma rays are a type of photon beam. There are different brand names and vendors of radiation machines, which can add to confusion as well - for example gammaknife, cyberknife, tomotherapy, are all types of photon beam radiation.
Dr. Daniel Landis
Dr. Daniel Landis
Thank
Dr. Lauren Stegman
Radiation Oncology

In brief: Radiation

Radiation treatments can also be divided into internal or external therapies.
The treatments discussed expertly be dr. Landis are extant beam treatments. These are delivered by various kinds of machines that focus a therapeutic dose of radiation on a tumor from the outside. Conventional external-beam radiation is usually given as a daily treatment over 2 to 9 weeks. Each treatment lasts only a few minutes and no radiation is ever left inside the patient's body. The machines simply "zap" the tumor each day killing cancer cells with each treatment. The most advanced forms of this treatment include various types of image-guided, intensity-modulated treatments that use special medical imaging techniques before and maybe even during each daily dose to make sure that the radiation beams are always focused on the intended tumor areas. These machines also have very complex computer controlled shields and filters that allow the shape and strengths of the beams o be exquisitely tailored to the patient to minimize the amount of normal cells receiving high doses of radiation. Standard extnal radiation is often used to treat tumors that can be seen on medical images, but it also is used to treat areas where doctors know there is a high chance that microscopic amounts of cancer cells could be left after surgery and/or chemotherapy to minimize the risk of a recurrence. The other main type of external radiation is called radiosurgery. This is also sometimes referred to as gammaknife or cyberkinfe treatment, although those are only brand names of two special radiosurgery machines. Radiosurgery consists of between one and five much larger doses of radiation focused on a tumor that can be seen on a medical imaging study. It is usually used as an alternative or supplement to surgery for certain brain, spine, lung, liver, and prostate tumors. It is becoming more and more widely used but only a portion of radiation oncologists have specialty expertise and training in this area. Internal radiation is also called brachytherapy. These treatments require that the radiation oncologist place one or many tiny radioactive seeds inside the tumor area so ha i can be treated from the inside-out. Sometimes the seeds are left in the patient permanently to give off all their radiation until they become inert metal like a clip a surgeon might use to close off a blood vessel during an operation. Other times the seeds are put in only briefly, maybe only a few minutes with something alled hdr brachytherapy, by containing them in a special tube or catheter that is then removed after the treatment so the no radiation is led in the body. Brachytherapy is now most commonly used for prostate and some female cancers like uterine, cervix, and breast cancers although it ma be recommended for other types as well. The are also some kinds of liquid internal radiation that are give through an IV into a vein that then seek out and kill cancers in the bone, thyroid, lymph system, or liver. More information can be found at rtanswewrs.Com.

In brief: Radiation

Radiation treatments can also be divided into internal or external therapies.
The treatments discussed expertly be dr. Landis are extant beam treatments. These are delivered by various kinds of machines that focus a therapeutic dose of radiation on a tumor from the outside. Conventional external-beam radiation is usually given as a daily treatment over 2 to 9 weeks. Each treatment lasts only a few minutes and no radiation is ever left inside the patient's body. The machines simply "zap" the tumor each day killing cancer cells with each treatment. The most advanced forms of this treatment include various types of image-guided, intensity-modulated treatments that use special medical imaging techniques before and maybe even during each daily dose to make sure that the radiation beams are always focused on the intended tumor areas. These machines also have very complex computer controlled shields and filters that allow the shape and strengths of the beams o be exquisitely tailored to the patient to minimize the amount of normal cells receiving high doses of radiation. Standard extnal radiation is often used to treat tumors that can be seen on medical images, but it also is used to treat areas where doctors know there is a high chance that microscopic amounts of cancer cells could be left after surgery and/or chemotherapy to minimize the risk of a recurrence. The other main type of external radiation is called radiosurgery. This is also sometimes referred to as gammaknife or cyberkinfe treatment, although those are only brand names of two special radiosurgery machines. Radiosurgery consists of between one and five much larger doses of radiation focused on a tumor that can be seen on a medical imaging study. It is usually used as an alternative or supplement to surgery for certain brain, spine, lung, liver, and prostate tumors. It is becoming more and more widely used but only a portion of radiation oncologists have specialty expertise and training in this area. Internal radiation is also called brachytherapy. These treatments require that the radiation oncologist place one or many tiny radioactive seeds inside the tumor area so ha i can be treated from the inside-out. Sometimes the seeds are left in the patient permanently to give off all their radiation until they become inert metal like a clip a surgeon might use to close off a blood vessel during an operation. Other times the seeds are put in only briefly, maybe only a few minutes with something alled hdr brachytherapy, by containing them in a special tube or catheter that is then removed after the treatment so the no radiation is led in the body. Brachytherapy is now most commonly used for prostate and some female cancers like uterine, cervix, and breast cancers although it ma be recommended for other types as well. The are also some kinds of liquid internal radiation that are give through an IV into a vein that then seek out and kill cancers in the bone, thyroid, lymph system, or liver. More information can be found at rtanswewrs.Com.
Dr. Lauren Stegman
Dr. Lauren Stegman
Thank
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