Types of radiotherapy

There are a number of different types of radiotherapy treatments available. 

These advancements in treatment and supporting technology means treatment is targeted with pinpoint accuracy, causing minimal damage to healthy surrounding tissue, this allows for higher dose beams to be applied usually shortening the number of treatment sessions required. Which type of radiotherapy treatment is prescribed will be determined by tumour type and positioning, your clinical oncologist will discuss which treatment option will best suit your condition.

Deep inspiration breath hold (DIBH)+

Deep inspiration breath-hold, also referred to as DIBH, is an effective technique which helps to limit exposure of the heart and lung to radiation, benefiting patients with cancers or tumours in areas close to or connecting to these vital organs. This treatment technique works by pushing the treatment area away from these organs, eliminating movement caused by breathing so that a more targeted area can be treated and radiation can be delivered with precision. DIBH allows the patient to maintain control of their breathing; treatment can be paused if a patient is unable to hold their breath for any reason and will restart once the patient is ready to resume. DIBH is tailored to the individual patient and your lung capacity and regular breathing will be measured beforehand to a comfortable breath hold capacity.

Image guided radiotherapy (IGRT)+

Image guided radiotherapy commonly referred to as IGRT incorporates the use of imaging including x-ray and CT scans, images are taken just before treatment, this allows us to confirm the position of the tumour and target beams appropriately. IGRT is useful because tumours may change in shape or size during treatment, and can change in position between treatment sessions. IGRT allows us to make adjustments for any of these changes so that treatment is delivered with pinpoint accuracy.

Intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT)+

Intensity modulated radiotherapy commonly referred to as IMRT forms the radiotherapy beams so that different parts of the treatment area can be targeted with different doses of radiotherapy. By varying doses to the treatment area, lower doses of radiotherapy affect healthy tissue, thus reducing the immediate and long term side effects of the treatment. By reducing damage to healthy tissue and any side effects, IMRT is particularly effective in treating tumours close to important structures or organs.

Prophylactic cranial radiotherapy (PCR)+

Prophylactic cranial radiotherapy also called PCR is given as a preventative form of radiotherapy, it can be used to prevent or delay the spread of cancer to the brain (secondary brain cancer). PCR uses high energy radiation beams aimed at the head, these are short daily treatments, with each treatment session lasting a few minutes. The number of treatment sessions required will depend on your individual condition and your clinical oncologist will discuss this with you.

RapidArc or volume modulated arc therapy (VMAT)+

Volume modulated arc therapy commonly referred to as VMAT or RapidArc uses 3D volume imaging techniques to maximise the dose of radiation targeted at the tumour and minimise any damage to healthy surrounding tissue. VMAT is extremely accurate as the dose rate, leaf speed and beam are all independently controlled and VMAT/ARC treatment types are quicker to deliver than other types of radiotherapy.

Stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR)+

Stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR) treatment is used to stop cancer cells growing, reduce the size of tumours and where possible eradicate them; it does this by damaging the DNA of cancer cells. The SABR technique uses small, thin beams of radiation that targets the tumour from different angles. The tumour is targeted with high dose beams and the beams that travel through healthy surrounding tissue are low dose to minimise any damage. This treatment can be given in shorter treatment courses than other techniques.

Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS)+

Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) uses a number of high dose radiation beams to precisely target tumours. Through the True Beam STx  maximised doses of radiation can be applied to the tumour, this is due to its pinpoint accuracy and therefore ability to protect surrounding healthy tissue. This type of treatment is often used to treat tumours of the brain or spine but can be used to treat tumours in other parts of the body. This is a non surgical procedure that delivers higher doses of radiotherapy in a single or a short course of treatment sessions; it provides an effective alternative to invasive surgery, particularly for patients who are unable to undergo surgery due to their medical condition or the location of the tumour. Your clinical oncologist will discuss this with you if this is a treatment option suitable to treat your condition.

Total body irradiation (TBI)+

Total body irradiation often referred to as TBI uses large single doses or a course of 6-8 smaller doses of radiation beams to the whole body to destroy the cells of the bone marrow. This treatment is used for patients who are having a stem cell transplant.