One common treatment for lung cancer is radiation therapy, in which cancerous cells are exposed to high doses of ionizing radiation. Radiation exposure damages cellular DNA, which either prevents the cells from spreading or causes them to die.
Radiation therapy can be used alone, or it can be combined with other treatments. For instance:
- Radiation can be given before surgery to shrink a tumor and make it easier to remove.
- Radiation can be given after surgery to reduce the likelihood of the tumor coming back.
- Radiation can be combined with chemotherapy for patients who are not good candidates for, or choose not to have, lung cancer surgery.
Regardless of when radiation therapy is given, it can be delivered through several different methods. Some patients receive external beam radiation therapy, in which a radioactive beam is directed at a tumor from a machine located outside the body. Other patients receive brachytherapy, or internal radiotherapy, in which radioactive pellets are implanted inside the body and then removed (or allowed to disintegrate) once the pellets have finished delivering radiation to the lungs.
Moffitt’s physicians are highly specialized in the treatment of lung cancer, and they take a number of factors into account when developing a patient’s radiation therapy plan. These factors include the size, stage and location of a patient’s tumor, scientific data that has been gathered from other lung cancer patients who received radiation, and other treatments that the patient has received (or will receive in the future). This allows our team to create an effective, evidence-based treatment plan while accounting for individual factors that can influence a patient’s response to common therapies. Ultimately, we strive to provide each patient with the most precise dose of radiation possible, while reducing the amount of radiation exposure sustained by nearby healthy tissues.
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Thomas Dilling.
If you’re considering radiation for lung cancer as part of your treatment plan, Moffitt’s oncologists can help you identify the best course of action. No referral is required to schedule a visit with one of our radiation therapy oncologists. Call 1-888-663-3488, or request an appointment.