NYU Langone physicians may use one of several types of external beam radiation therapy. Each of these therapies is delivered using a machine called a linear accelerator, which rotates around you, treating the entire tumor.
Typically, sessions take place once daily, five days a week, for several weeks, although the total treatment time may vary. Our doctors may also use brachytherapy, also called internal radiotherapy, which releases targeted radiation inside the body.
Each type of radiation therapy detailed below is more highly targeted than the previous one. Radiation oncologists can discuss which type of radiation therapy and treatment schedule is best for you.
Three-Dimensional Conformal Radiation Therapy
Three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy allows doctors to deliver radiation beams tailored to the size, shape, and location of the tumor.
Using imaging techniques such as CT or PET/CT scanning, oncologists create a three-dimensional model of the cancer. They can then aim radiation beams at the tumor from different directions, minimizing radiation to healthy tissue.
Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy
Intensity modulated radiation therapy is a more highly targeted form of radiation therapy. Doctors break up the radiation into many smaller, computer-controlled beams of different strengths. Together, these minibeams conform to the size, shape, and location of the tumor. Physicians can adjust them within millimeters to spare surrounding healthy tissue.
This approach enables doctors to use higher doses of radiation therapy when necessary.
Volumetric Modulated Arc Radiation Therapy
Another type of intensity modulated radiation therapy, volumetric modulated arc radiation therapy allows the linear accelerator to move continuously around you during the treatment in 1 or several 360-degree rotations. This allows doctors to deliver radiation from almost any angle, closely targeting the tumor and avoiding healthy tissue.
Physicians can also adjust the radiation beams during treatment, instead of starting and stopping, as with conventional therapy. Because the radiation is given without interruption, treatment sessions may be shorter than more conventional approaches.
Brachytherapy involves placing high doses of a radioactive substance called an isotope against the tumor for a few minutes at a time. It is removed after each treatment.
Doctors use an endoscope, a thin, lighted tube with a video camera on the end, to guide the radioactive isotope to the tumor site.