Radiation Oncology

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Types of Radiation Therapy

There are two main types of radiation therapy: external-beam radiation therapy and internal radiation therapy. Your radiation oncologist will talk with you about the type that is best for your situation and the reasons why.

External-Beam Radiation Therapy

External-beam radiation therapy refers to treatments in which the radiation is generated from a source outside your body, and the beams are then pointed precisely at your tumor. This is the most common type of radiation therapy for cancer.

External-beam radiation therapy includes:

  • Three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy
  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery (including Gamma Knife radiosurgery)
  • Stereotactic body radiation therapy
  • Intraoperative radiation therapy
  • Total body irradiation
  • Electron therapy
  • Proton therapy
  • Neutron therapy

Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) offers all of these. Read more about each form of external-beam radiation therapy.

Internal Radiation Therapy

Internal radiation therapy refers to treatments in which a radioactive substance is placed inside your body so it can release radiation from within. Often the substance is a small implant. It could also be a pill that you take by mouth or a fluid that you get intravenously.

Internal radiation therapy includes:

  • Brachytherapy
  • Systemic radiation therapy

SCCA offers both of these. Read more about each form of internal radiation therapy.