External beam radiation is the most common form of local treatment, meaning the radiation is only aimed at a specific part of the body. Doctors aim high-powered radiation beams directly at the tumor from outside the body. This treatment usually happens in daily sessions over the course of several weeks.
The cancer experts at the MedStar Health Baltimore Cancer Network are skilled in using a variety of advanced external beam radiation methods to attack cancer. We will work with you to determine the treatment method that will be most beneficial for you. External beam radiation therapies we use include:
- 3D Conformal Radiotherapy is a radiation therapy technique that sculpts radiation beams to the shape of a tumor. This is ideal for tumors that have irregular shapes or for those that are close to healthy tissues and organs. We view a tumor in three dimensions with the help of imaging and deliver radiation beams from several directions to the tumor.
- Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) allows the radiation beamlets (tiny beams) to move and change intensity depending on the type of tissue they are targeting. Rather than using one large radiation beam, the radiation is broken up into thousands of thin radiation beams. This procedure delivers high doses of radiation to the cancer tumor while limiting the exposure to nearby organs. It is a non-invasive procedure and, therefore, may be easier on the patient than surgical procedures. IMRT accuracy is enhanced by IGRT.
- Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) uses high-quality imaging technology to create pictures of a tumor during the radiation procedure. Using these images, your radiation oncology team carefully adjusts radiation beams and doses during the procedure to best fit the size, shape, and location of the tumor, while sparing normal tissues. IGRT can integrate respiratory motion technology to track the exact position of a tumor while a patient is breathing. IGRT is primarily used for patients whose tumors are directly adjacent to critical structures when an immediately adjacent area has been previously irradiated or when dose escalation is planned and where conventional means of targeting are deemed to be inadequate.
- Stereotactic Ablative Radiotherapy (SABR), also known as Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS), uses imaging technology to pinpoint the location of a tumor, including factoring in its motion, and delivering very high doses of radiation directly to it without affecting surrounding healthy tissue.
- CyberKnife® is one of the most advanced and effective stereotactic radiosurgery technologies, and is available at MedStar Health. Read more here.