What is radiation therapy?
Radiation therapy uses targeted energy to kill cancer cells, shrink tumors and provide relief of certain cancer-related symptoms. At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), our state-of-the-art radiation therapy program brings our patients the leading technology.
Our radiation oncologists use a variety of advanced technologies to deliver maximum radiation doses to tumors, with less damage to healthy tissues and organs. By focusing the radiation directly on the tumor, there is a lower risk of side effects.
Your well-being is at the center of everything we do. In addition to our leading radiation technologies, you’ll be treated by a team of clinicians from areas like nutrition therapy and oncology rehabilitation, all working together to meet your needs throughout treatment. This approach helps us plan for any side effects from the start, and quickly address any symptoms you may experience.
Video: Radiation TherapyLearn about radiation therapy
Radiation therapy for brain cancer
Radiation therapy can be used to destroy brain tumor cells and to relieve symptoms, like pain or discomfort, caused by a tumor. We use highly targeted radiation therapy delivery systems that allow us to increase the dose and precision of radiation to a brain tumor, while minimizing damage to healthy brain tissue.
Radiation therapy for brain cancer patients is commonly used after a biopsy, or following surgical resection of a tumor, to destroy any microscopic tumor cells left behind. It may also be an option for unresectable brain tumors or metastatic brain tumors (tumors that have spread to the brain from another part of the body).
The specifics of your brain cancer radiation therapy plan will be based on several factors, including the type and size of the brain tumor and the extent of disease. External beam radiation is commonly used for brain cancer. The area radiated typically includes the tumor and an area surrounding the tumor. For metastatic brain tumors, radiation is sometimes given to the entire brain.
Since lung cancer commonly spreads to the brain, some individuals with lung cancer receive radiation as a preventative therapy to stop metastatic brain tumors from developing.
Addressing brain cancer radiation therapy side effects
Depending on your radiation dose, site and other factors, radiation therapy for brain cancer may cause certain side effects. Fatigue, hair loss, skin irritation and edema (brain swelling) are common side effects of radiation for brain tumors. Sometimes, individuals develop a blood clot in the leg, causing swelling of the foot, ankle or calf.
As you receive brain cancer radiation therapy, your care team will work with you to proactively manage any side effects. For example, we may prescribe steroids to help reduce swelling, or blood thinners to dissolve blood clots and prevent them from traveling into the lungs.
You’ll also receive integrative oncology services, like nutrition therapy, naturopathic medicine, pain management, oncology rehabilitation and mind-body medicine, to help combat any side effects of radiation or other treatments you receive. These therapies will help keep you strong so you can continue treatment while maintaining your quality of life.