- External beam therapy —A beam of radiation from a treatment machine is directed to limited parts of the body. The radiation can kill the primary tumor and/or the microscopic tumor deposits in areas near the tumor, such as regional lymph nodes. Stereotactic radiosurgery is a type of external beam therapy that delivers very highly directed high doses of radiation to a very limited area. It is often used for small brain tumors.
- Brachytherapy or Internal Radiation Therapy —Radioactive material is placed in or near the tumor. This allows higher radiation to be delivered to smaller area of tissue. The radiation may be sealed in a thin wire, catheter, or tube and is often shorter duration than external radiation.
- Intraoperative radiation therapy is delivered during surgery. The surgeon removes as much of the tumor as possible then a large dose of radiation is given directly to the tumor bed and nearby areas.
- Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a treatment option that uses light to damage cancer cells. Photosensitizers, or light-sensitive molecules, are injected into the bloodstream. Some of the molecules are absorbed into healthy cells throughout the body, but most are absorbed by cancer cells. After 24-72 hours the cancer cells are exposed to a specific laser light. The light activates the photosensitizers which damage the cells. This therapy is currently used for superficial cancers like skin cancer.
Assessing Treatment Effectiveness
- Response rates
- Survival rates
- Dose-limiting toxicities
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Radiation therapy. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/treatment/types/radiation-therapy. Updated April 29, 2015. Accessed May 13, 2015.
Surgery. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/treatment/types/surgery. Updated April 29, 2015. Accessed May 13, 2015.
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- Reviewer: Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
- Review Date: 03/2015 -
- Update Date: 05/13/2015 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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