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Learn what radiation oncology means for you

Radiation therapy, or radiotherapy, is the use of radiation to safely treat and manage cancer. Radiation oncologists use radiation to eradicate cancer cells, reduce their growth or relieve symptoms of cancer. Radiation therapy works by damaging cancer cells while limiting the impact to healthy cells. It is a painless treatment (similar to having an xray), that is localised to the part of the body being treated. ROC uses External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT) and Brachytherapy, both effective forms of radiation therapy. The treatment can be delivered on its own, or in combination with other forms of treatment, such as chemotherapy, hormones and surgery. It is commonly undertaken as an outpatient service. Treatment is usually given in daily intervals (Monday to Friday) over several weeks, allowing enough radiation to target cancer cells while providing healthy cells enough time to recuperate. A single course of radiation therapy is unique to each person and their condition. This includes the site and stage of the disease, type of disease, a person’s age and general health. Radiation therapy by EBRT does not make you radioactive, and it is safe for you to be with other people, including children, throughout your treatment.

External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT)

External beam radiation therapy [EBRT] is a type of radiation therapy that uses one or more beams to deliver high energy xrays to a cancerous tumour. This is achieved using equipment called a Linear Accelerator, which directs the beams specifically into the tumour while sparing the surrounding healthy tissue.

Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)

Intensity modulated radiation therapy [IMRT] is a high precision type of radiotherapy that uses computer controlled linear accelerators to deliver high dose radiation to cancerous tumours, while limiting the impact of radiation on healthy surrounding tissue.  By modulating, or controlling the radiation beams to the 3D mapped image of the tumour, therapists are able to target the tumour in varying dose intensity patterns.

Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)

Image guided radiation therapy is radiation therapy [IGRT] that utilises the most advanced imaging equipment and computer software. This includes MRI [magnetic resonance imaging], CT [computerised tomography] and xray to increase the therapists ability to precisely target a tumour with radiation beams. This type of therapy is very useful in areas of the body that move a lot, such as the lungs.

Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy (VMAT)

Volumetric modulated arc therapy [VMAT] involves the radiation therapy beams being directed in a series of arcs or angles by a rotating machine to allow for greater access to a cancerous tumour. This therapy reduces the likelihood of impacting healthy surrounding tissues, and allows more difficult tumours such as ones wrapped around other important structures to be targeted precisely.

TomoTherapy

TomoTherapy allows continuous delivery of radiation beams from all angles by using a slice by slice process, or one layer at a time which enables all areas of a tumour to receive radiation. This therapy is very useful in treating hard to reach tumours, and can do so in an easy manner with limited damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

Brachytherapy

Brachytherapy is the use of radiation internally to the body, where radioactive material is placed in or around the cancerous tumour, to deliver radiation to small areas over a shorter period of time. Brachytherapy may involve temporary placement where a tube such as a catheter will direct radioactive material in or around the tumour and then be removed. Alternatively, permanent placement may be utlistised. This is when small seeds are planted, about the size of a grain of rice, in or near the tumour that lose their radioactivity over time yet will remain in the body.

Deep Inspiration Breath Hold Technique (DIBH)

Deep inspiration breath hold is the use of a technique that reduces the potential impact on the heart from radiation during treatment for left sided breast cancers. The process involves holding a certain number of breaths for short bursts during treatment which allows the heart to move backwards into the chest while the breast is exposed to radiation.

Stereotactic

Stereotactic radiation therapy is the use of external beam radiation to target usually quite small and well defined tumours with pronounced accuracy. By using precise three dimensional imaging and equipment that limit stereotactic radiation allows for larger amounts of radiation to enter the body across a shorter period of time.

Skin Brachytherapy

Skin Brachytherapy is a non-invasive treatment for early skin cancer that can be an effective alternative to surgery. The treatment is suitable for those who wish to avoid surgery for medical or cosmetic reasons. This treatment uses low energy x-rays to target the cancerous site, with the ability to treat multiple lesions at once. Specifically designed for non-melanoma skin cancer treatments, such as Basal Cell Carcinomas (BCCs) and Squamous Cell Carcinomas (SCCs). It is suitable for places difficult to treat via excision, or that are highly visible. Skin brachytherapy is also effective for patients on anticoagulants with no change to medication required during treatment. It is suitable for non-melanoma skin cancers up to 5mm in depth and 2cm in diameter.