How Radiation Therapy is Used to Treat Cancer

by | Nov 14, 2020 | Cancer Treatment

Hearing the words, “You have cancer” is very scary and trying to figure out what the future will bring and what’s the best treatment plan to beat your cancer can be very difficult, but it can be done safely and effectively.

While most patients understand what surgery means and/or what chemotherapy treatments are, many don’t know much about radiation therapy and they may be unnecessarily fearful of it.

Yet most often radiation therapy is an excellent choice because it is non-invasive, eliminates the need for incisions, resulting in a much lower risk of side effects like infection, it requires no anesthesia, is done on an outpatient basis and there’s no recovery time.

More than half of people with cancer get radiation therapy. Sometimes it’s the only cancer treatment needed and sometimes it’s used with other types of treatments.

The decision to use radiation therapy depends on the type and stage of cancer, and other health problems a patient might have, which you will talk over with your radiation oncologist before beginning treatment.

What Is Radiation Therapy?

Here’s how the American Cancer Society describes Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy particles or waves, such as x-rays, gamma rays, electron beams, or protons, to destroy cancer cells.

While chemotherapy and other treatments that are taken by mouth or injection usually expose the whole body to cancer-fighting drugs, CyberKnife radiation beams aim directly and only at the tumor site with pinpoint accuracy, destroying only the cancer cells, with as little harm as possible to nearby healthy cells.

Systemic radiation therapy uses radioactive substances that are given in a vein. Even though this type of radiation does travel throughout the body, the radioactive substance mostly collects in the area of the tumor, so there’s still little effect on the rest of the body.

Traditional or standard types of radiation therapy deliver radiation to a wider area of the body. That means both cancerous cells and healthy cells are subjected to radiation, which can result in damage to surrounding organs and healthy tissue.

The CyberKnife system is a much newer and precise form of radiation therapy. It delivers a higher dose of radiation to tumors, but with pinpoint accuracy using missile-guided technology, leaving healthy tissue undamaged while killing cancer cells. Because the dosage of radiation is higher, many fewer treatment sessions are needed.
Usually 1-to-5 treatments compared to 15-to-40 with older radiation technology.
CyberKnife can accomplish in 5 days of treatment what other types of radiation takes months to do.

What To Expect When Meeting With Our CyberKnife Team?

First patients meet with our medical team to determine exactly what type of cancer you’re dealing with, what stage it is and if it has spread. Together with you and your other doctors, they will review all your medical records and scans, such as your MRI, CT or PET scans.

The oncology team, including our radiation oncologists, radiation therapists and medical physicists, along with your doctors will evaluate every aspect of your situation and determine if CyberKnife is the best treatment option for your type of cancer and particular needs.

If it’s determined you are a candidate for CyberKnife and fortunately most patients are, the medical team will map out your treatment plan and help set up your treatment schedule and work with your insurance to verify coverage for treatment.
CyberKnife treatments are covered by most insurances, plus Medicare and Medicaid.

Rest assured you are working with the best cancer team in South Florida.
They have the most experience with CyberKnife technology because they’ve been doing it longer than anyone else, not only here but nationwide and worldwide.

Plus, our team is very compassionate, and we put patients first. We will walk you through the process every step of the way and hold your hand.
Everything is explained thoroughly so you will know exactly what to expect before treatment begins.

The Benefits of CyberKnife Radiation Therapy

Once patients learn about the benefits of CyberKnife Radiation Therapy and its superior technology, most opt for CyberKnife therapy to treat their cancer.
You can’t beat its high success rate and low risk of negative side effects.

CyberKnife can kill tumors almost anywhere in the body, including sensitive areas like the brain.
If you have had previous treatments to an area and the cancer has come back, often it can be treated again with Cyberknife.

Danger of Hospital Infection Rates

CyberKnife is done on an outpatient basis. Because it’s non-invasive there is no risk of infection because there are no incisions.
Our center is a free standing medical center, so you don’t have to go into a hospital or stay overnight in a hospital where the risk of picking up many kinds of infections is high, including COVID19, MRSA or a Staph Infection.

1.7 million Americans develop hospital-acquired infections each year, and 99,000 die of Hospital Acquired Infections (HAQ) annually according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Even after you leave the hospital, your risk for infection is still high, and you must take extra care to keep your incision site clean.
Since CyberKnife requires no incisions, this is one less thing to worry about.

At CyberKnife Miami we take all safety precautions to keep our patients safe from all infectious diseases including COVID all year long. Our equipment and facility is disinfected after each patient.

CyberKnife Therapy Less Expensive Than Other Treatments

We know how expensive a hospital stay can be.
Add cancer surgery to your treatment and the cost may well be into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. You or your insurance must pay for the operating room, the surgeon and his or her team in the OR, the anesthesiologist, the recovery room and its team. The stay in the hospital and on and on.

With CyberKnife there is none of that. You walk into our center, lay down on the CyberKnife table, get treated and in about 45 minutes you’re out the door going about your day while your tumor shrinks down to nothing.

Another bonus, because CyberKnife requires many fewer treatments than other types of radiation therapy, it’s most often less expensive too.
Traditional radiation treatments usually require 15-to-40 therapy sessions, whereas CyberKnife requires only 1-to-5 treatments.

Few If Any Side Effects

Most patients who have CyberKnife treatments suffer no side effects.
However, some patients say they feel a little tired afterwards, or a slight headache, which subsides quickly.

Since it doesn’t require anesthesia, it eliminates those common side effects which include nausea, vomiting, sore throat, postoperative delirium, itching, chills, muscle aches, and often temporary or even long term memory loss.

For all of these reasons and more, CyberKnife is becoming the number one radiation therapy treatment choice for cancer and nerve disorders like Trigeminal Neuralgia.

It’s a safe, effective, quick and easy, non-invasive treatment.

Call our cancer experts at the CyberKnife Center of Miami with your questions or to schedule an appointment (305) 279-2900 and go to our website now to learn more