Promising New Therapies Involving Radiation Therapy
Many new radiation techniques are being used and studied to find more effective treatments for cancer. Some of the more promising therapies are described below.
Radiation, surgery and chemotherapy in combination
Depending upon the particular type of cancer, doctors often choose to combine radiation with chemotherapy and/or surgery. Radiation may help to shrink tumors before surgery, for example, and chemotherapy may be used afterward to kill cancer cells not removed by surgery. Many of the advances in cancer care during the past decade have been related to the use of combined modality therapy.
The use of interventional procedures such as angioplasty, stents, and other procedures has increased greatly in the past 20 years. Angioplasty and stents are used to open blocked areas in blood vessels. Unfortunately, newly opened areas in blood vessels may close after an angioplasty or stent procedure. However, research studies have shown that the use of radiation at the site of angioplasty or stent decreases the chance of vessel closure following these procedures. Endovascular brachytherapy may be performed at the time of cardiac catheterization to reduce the risk of restenosis.
Intraoperative radiation is the use of radiation during surgery to treat cancer. This treatment is delivered in the operating room in the course of surgery and may decrease the risk of cancer recurrence because a larger single dose of radiation can be used. Intraoperative radiation may be used in addition to conventional external beam radiation.
Hypofractionated radiation therapy
Conventional external beam radiation therapy may require up to seven weeks of daily treatment. Investigational protocols are testing the feasibility of briefer schedules. However, with these schedules larger individual doses of radiation are utilized. Your radiation oncologist will inform you if you are eligible to participate in these trials.
This type of radiation therapy involves using antibodies "tagged" with a radioactive substance (radionuclide). These tagged antibodies recognize tumor cells and bind with them. By doing so, the antibodies bring radiation in direct contact with the tumor. Radioimmunotherapy is used most commonly in the treatment of lymphomas.