This is the first blog in a three-part interview series with Dr. Chandrika Patel, radiation oncologist. She is board certified in radiation oncology by the American Board of Radiology and a certified MD Anderson Cancer Network® physician at Community Cancer Center East.
What is radiation therapy?
Radiation therapy is treatment where beams of high-energy rays are used to target and destroy cancer cells. Radiation oncologists specialize in treating cancer patients with it. Radiation therapy is not like chemotherapy. Radiation treats just the tumor. Chemo uses drugs to treat the whole body.
Because of the precision and versatility with which these treatments are delivered, over 66 percent of cancer patients will have some form of radiotherapy as part of their treatment. It may be given at different times in cancer treatment, dependent upon the cancer type. Sometimes it is used to shrink a tumor, or used after a surgery to kill areas the surgery missed.
Are there different types of radiation therapy?
Depending on the type of cancer you have, you may be treated with high-dose rate (HDR) radiotherapy. This treatment uses higher amounts of radiation than in typical radiation therapy. The radiation is directed precisely at the tumor to avoid damaging healthy tissue, with the advantage that it may kill more cancer cells in fewer treatments.
In contrast, low dose rate radiation brachytherapy, is a different way to deliver radiation. Low dose radiation is commonly used for prostate cancer treatments, and involves implanting a radioactive “seed” in the body permanently to damage the cancer cells. This allows application of a higher dose of radiation for a shorter period of time to a small area. continue reading ...