Radiation therapy, an effective treatment for cancer often combined with surgery or chemotherapy, uses high-energy X-rays to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors.
Directed by a radiation oncologist, a physician specialist, radiation therapy can be either external or internal. External therapy directs therapeutic X-rays with great precision at the body from a highly advanced piece of equipment. Radiation therapy can also come from an internal source such as radioactive "seeds" or wire that are placed near the cancer. This is known as brachytherapy.
External forms of radiation therapy
Inova Cancer Institute offers the latest radiation therapy technologies to treat tumors. One type is known as intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). Another is image guided radiation therapy (IGRT). IGRT delivers precisely targeted radiation to tumors and reduces exposure to the surrounding healthy tissues. Trilogy™ and TrueBeam™ are two examples of IGRT. Both allow surgeons to treat cancer conditions that were once considered "unapproachable" because they were near a vital organ or in a hard-to-reach area.
Inova Alexandria, Fairfax, Fair Oaks, and Loudoun Hospitals all offer external radiation therapy.
CyberKnife® at Inova Fairfax Hospital
CyberKnife® is an exceptionally precise form of external radiation therapy that is appopriate for many different kinds of cancer. CyberKnife treatment is now available at Inova Fairfax Hospital. Learn more about CyberKnife radiation therapy
Internal radiation therapy
Radioactive seeds, small wires or catheters (a small thin flexible tube) can be implanted directly at the site of the tumor. The procedure spares surrounding healthy tissue and delivers a targeted, low-dose of radiation over an extended period of time. Common internal radiation treatments are prostate seed implants for prostate cancer and accelerated partial breast irradiation for early-stage breast cancer.