Radiation therapy is just one treatment used in the treatment of cancer. Linear accelerators, LINAC, are often used to deliver radiation which destroys cancerous cells. LINAC machines use high energy x-rays to deliver radiation to cancerous tumors. This breaks down and destroys the cancer cells while trying to minimize the damage and exposure to the surrounding healthy cells. Radiation therapy is used to shrink and destroy cancer to prevent it from spreading.
Radiation treatment can vary a great deal depending on the type of cancer and where it is located. Linear accelerators are just one type of machine used to administer radiation. When a patient is diagnosed with cancer, your oncologist will work with a team of experts to determine what type of treatment is best for you depending on your cancer, its location, overall health, and medical history.
Keep in mind when a cancer treatment plan is being created that it may involve more than one type of treatment including radiation therapy, surgery, and/or drug therapy. The best-known type of drug therapy is chemotherapy. This is a medication that moves through the bloodstream in order to attack cancer in the body.
Your team of doctors, including your oncologist will prescribe a treatment plan for your unique cancer. Often this includes a combination of treatments. When a combination of treatments is prescribed to treat cancer, it is important to follow the order that your doctor specifies as there often is a specific order that treatment needs to be given in order to treat specific conditions.
Cancer is not the only medical condition that is treated using radiation therapy. Below we will highlight different diseases that respond well with radiation therapy.
- Acoustic Neuroma
This is a tumor that is not cancerous. It is produced when the body over produces Schwann cells. When this occur the abundance of cells presses on the nerves that control hearing and balance within the inner ear.
- Arteriovenous Malformations
This occurs when a connection between the arteries and veins in the brain and spine are atypical. When this happens there will be neurologic symptoms and bleeding.
- Bone Cancer
Bone cancer is a growth of abnormal cells in a bone. These cells can either be cancerous or benign.
- Brain Tumor
Like bone cancer a brain tumor may be either cancerous or non-cancerous. A brain tumor occurs when there is an irregular development of tissue in the brain.
This is a type of bone cancer that is malignant. It most often is seen in the cartilage cells of the femur, arm, knee, pelvis, or spine. Other areas that may be affected, but less often are areas like the ribs.
Chordoma is very rare. It grows slower than most cancerous tumors that occur along the spine from the bottom of the skull all the way down to the tailbone.
- Ewing’s Sarcoma
This is a type of cancer that occur in soft tissue and bone. It is often located in extremities and can involve muscles and soft tissue close to the site of a tumor. It is also a cancer that spreads to areas throughout the body.
Leukemia is a type of blood cancer that develops in bone marrow. This type of cancer produces three major blood cells including platelets, white and red blood cells.
One type of tumor that cultivates from meninges, the protective membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord is Meningioma. This is often a benign and slow-growing tumor.
Most often occurring in children and young adults, this is a type of bone cancer that cultivates in the osteoblast cells which form the outer covering of bones.
- Soft Tissue Sarcomas
This rare cancer is just one of many soft tissue sarcomas. Soft tissue sarcomas, overall, are rare.
- Trigeminal Neuralgia
This is a disorder in the nerves which causes pain in parts of the face that feel like a stabbing or electrical shock like pain.
There are two main types of radiation therapy that are used in treatment including external and internal radiation. External radiation is delivered using a LINAC. This is a machine that gives treatment outside of the body by moving around it without touching the patient. External radiation using a linear accelerator causes patients no pain and cannot be felt during treatment. Internal radiation, brachytherapy, is radiation therapy that is used to treat certain gynecological and prostate cancers.