Types of Radiation Oncology Treatment

The Department of Radiation Oncology at the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute offers radiation therapy. The type of therapy a patient receives depends on the type of cancer, its stage and where it is located.

External beam radiation therapy

External beam radiation therapy uses machines to direct a beam or beams through the skin and to the cancer site or surrounding areas. This type of radiation therapy destroys tumors or cancer cells while minimizing the risk of radiation exposure to healthy organs and tissue.

  • Intensity modulated radiation therapy
  • Respiratory gating and motion management
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery
  • Stereotactic radiotherapy
  • Total body irradiation

Brachytherapy is a form of radiotherapy that places a radiation source (radioactive seeds) inside or next to the area needing treatment. It allows for the precise delivery of high-dose radiation to the targeted area while preventing healthy tissue from unnecessary exposure. Common sites for which brachytherapy treatment is considered are:

  • Gynecological: cervical, uterine, vaginal, vulvar
  • Prostate: definitive, salvage (re-irradiation)
  • Breast: after lumpectomy, salvage (re-irradiation), during surgery (intraoperative radiation therapy)
  • Skin: basal cell, squamous cell, keloids
  • Gastrointestinal: esophageal (re-irradiation), cholangiocarcinoma, liver (hepatocellular carcinoma)/metastasis
  • Sarcoma

Intensity modulated radiation therapy is a type of high-precision radiation therapy in which the strength and shape of the radiation beam is adapted to match the precise size and shape of a tumor in order to minimize the damage to surrounding tissue.

  • Brain
  • Breast 
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Head and neck
  • Lung
  • Prostate

Respiratory gating and motion management is a type of radiation technology that senses and accounts for motion during radiation therapy. This technology allows doctors to target the tumor during specific times and minimize radiation exposure to healthy tissue.

  • Breast
  • Lung
  • Liver
  • Pancreas
  • Esophageal

Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is a highly precise form of radiation therapy initially developed to treat small brain tumors and functional abnormalities of the brain. This therapy can target very small areas.

  • Breast
  • Lung
  • Stomach
  • Brain
  • Liver
  • Brain abnormalities, such as arteriovenous malformations and meningiomas

Total body irradiation is a type of radiation therapy that delivers radiation to the entire body. It is commonly used for the treatment of certain blood cancers before a bone marrow transplant.

  • Leukemia
  • Lymphoma
  • Multiple myeloma