Radiation therapy is a treatment for cancer that uses x-rays, gamma rays and charged particles to target cancerous cells. These rays kill and shrink cancer cells while avoiding surrounding normal cells. Depending on the goals of treatment, radiation therapy can cure the cancer, relieve symptoms or control the disease.
There are two types of radiation therapy, both available at Florida Hospital. Depending on the type of cancer, the location and the patient’s health, different administration methods may be recommended to improve effectiveness of treatment.
These are the types of radiation therapy:
- External radiation therapy: This cancer treatment uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Similar in process to receiving an x-ray, the patient lies still while a machine directs radiation to the cancer site. Most patients receive treatment once a day for five consecutive days, and repeat this process for two to 10 weeks.
- Internal radiation therapy (or brachytherapy): This type of radiation is implanted into the body, and allows the radiation oncologist to direct the radiation to a smaller area in a shorter time span than with external radiation. The radiation material is sealed inside small implants and inserted into the body using a catheter. The three main types of implants are low-dose rate implants, high-dose rate implants and permanent implants. The lose-dose rate implants stay in the body for up to a week before being removed. The high-dose rate implants stay in place for a few minutes before removal. In both cases, after the implants are removed, the patient is no longer radioactive and can be around other people. Permanent implants, meanwhile, give off small doses of radiation for a few weeks or months and then taper off and stop. These patients should avoid close contact with children and pregnant women. In some other cases, especially for cancers of the thyroid and some types of lymphoma, the radiation can be orally ingested, and travels throughout the body seeking and killing cancer cells.
Radiation therapy can be combined with a variety of other procedures for a complete and effective treatment plan.
Florida Hospital Cancer Institute is dedicated to providing patients with the best cancer treatment available. We provide access to top oncologists, cancer diagnostic and treatment technology, and a holistic philosophy to health care. We believe healing takes place in the whole person—mind, body and spirit, so our team provides comprehensive, compassionate care for patients.