At Florida Cancer Specialists and Research Institute, we recognize that cancer treatment often requires a multidisciplinary approach that includes surgical, medical, and/or radiation oncology, also known as radiation therapy or radiotherapy. That is why we have several FCS clinical locations, strategically located throughout our network, where patients can receive radiation therapy in same location as other services, such as chemotherapy.
Radiation therapy effectively treats cancer by using high-energy beams of radiation to pinpoint and destroy cancerous cells. Although radiation therapy is similar to an X-ray, the dose of radiation in cancer treatment is much stronger and is given over a longer period of time. Many forms of radiation are available in modern cancer treatment, and if radiation treatment is indicated, your oncologist will refer you to see a physician called a radiation oncologist. In consultation with you and your other physicians, the radiation oncologist will choose the best therapy based on the type, stage, and location of your cancer.
Once you and your physician determine that radiation therapy needs to be part of your cancer care plan, you will have a special CT scan called a simulation. This process allows the physician and the team of specially trained staff to provide customized cancer care for your treatment. Using this technology, and with careful planning, radiation can be directed to the cancer cells and away from most normal tissues. This means you may receive treatment on more than one side of your body or from different angles. You may also need more than one type of radiation, which may require the use of more than one type of machine.
Over 50% of cancer patients will undergo radiation therapy; for some, it will be the only cancer treatment needed. Radiation is used in the successful treatment of skin cancer, eliminating the need for surgery in some cases. Radiation is often used in combination with other treatments. Used before or during other procedures, radiation shrinks the tumor to make surgery or chemotherapy more effective. Used afterward, it destroys any cancer cells that might remain.
There are two basic types of radiation therapy:
External beam radiation uses specialized machines called linear accelerators to administer a high dose of radiation directly to the cancer site and a small amount of healthy tissue at the margins of the tumor. Different radiation energies are used for tumors of various types or in different locations in the body.
Internal radiation, or brachytherapy, involves radioactive material that is implanted in the body at the tumor site. Permanent placement of the radioactive material is usually indicated in LDR, or low dose radiotherapy, in which the radioactive material is contained within small "seeds" such as those used to treat prostate cancer.
The other type of brachytherapy is the temporary placement of radioactive material within the body cavity at the site of the tumor. This type of therapy is called HDR (High Dose Rate Brachytherapy). The radiation sources are embedded in catheters that have a high intensity of radioactive energy, and then they are placed in the tumor site for short periods of time to deliver a total dose of radiation.
Radiotherapy is a very detailed and intricate procedure that requires thorough preparation. It is always wise to consult your oncologist about any aspect of radiotherapy, especially about its side effects. With enough knowledge and understanding about this treatment method, it is possible to undergo radiation therapy with ease and few complications.
FCS is one of the few practices in the United States that utilizes this technology in the treatment of cancer. Hyperthermia, the heating of the cancer, is used to increase sensitivity in the tumors,which enhances the effect of both radiation therapy and chemotherapy. This can improve the overall outcome of specific cancer therapies. There are no greater long term complications with Hyperthermia than with external beam radiation therapy alone.
Radiation Oncology services are available at the following locations:
Largo - Highland Ave.
New Port Richey
Tampa Cancer Center