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If you or a loved one want to know what it’s like to experience radiation therapy for breast cancer, watch this video for a first-hand look. Here’s more information from our companion website, patientresource.net:
Radiation therapy involves the use of high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. The radiation can also harm nearby normal tissue, so great care is taken to deliver the radiation to the precise area of the tumor. A radiation oncologist is consulted to plan this type of treatment. The most common type of radiation therapy for lung cancer is external radiation, which means that radiation is delivered from a large machine outside of the body. Radiation therapy is usually used as part of a combined-modality approach; that is, it is used in combination with chemotherapy and/or surgery for stage III disease. Radiation therapy is also used to relieve symptoms, such as those from brain or bone metastases.
Radiation therapy also has become more targeted in approach, thanks to a technique called stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS). SRS uses three-dimensional, computer-aided planning software and multiple cross-fired beams of radiation to deliver tightly focused, high-dose radiation therapy to cancer while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissues. SRS often is given in one dose. Like more traditional radiation therapy, SRS damages the genetic material of tumor cells so they can’t reproduce. Over time, the tumors shrink.
SRS can be used in place of invasive surgery. The first SRS systems were developed for use on the brain, and most systems employ mechanical clamps to immobilize the head during the procedure. One of the most advanced SRS systems, CyberKnife, which uses robotics and an advanced image-guidance system, can treat brain cancer without mechanical clamps. The CyberKnife and some other SRS systems also are approved to treat tumors elsewhere in the body.