External radiotherapy is a type of radiation therapy in which high-energy beams are directed at a tumor by a machine, such as a linear accelerator, from outside a patient’s body. It is also referred to as external beam radiation therapy.
External radiotherapy is not one specific type of radiation treatment, but rather a broad category of radiation delivery methods. Some of these include stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR), stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT), three-dimensional computerized radiation therapy (3D CRT) and four-dimensional computerized radiation therapy (4D CRT).
Other forms of external radiation therapy and delivery techniques that may be used include:
- Respiratory gating and breath hold treatment, a technique in which tumor movement is carefully monitored and external radiotherapy is delivered when the tumor is in a precise location
- Accelerated partial breast radiation (APBI), a localized form of radiation therapy in which beams are delivered only to the part of the breast where a tumor was removed
- Total skin electron therapy (TSET), a specialized radiotherapeutic technique in which a wide patch of skin is radiated with flat beams that don’t penetrate the underlying organs
- Volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT), a novel form of radiation therapy in which multiple beams of varying intensities are combined to produce highly precise dose distributions
- Total body irradiation (TBI), a form of radiation therapy in which low doses of radiation therapy are delivered throughout the entire body.
While targeted delivery techniques are extremely important, even the most advanced equipment requires precise operation to be effective. At Moffitt, our team of radiation therapists, radiologists, and radiologic technologists have extensive experience designing, simulating and executing radiation therapy plans with each of our state-of-the-art machines. Moreso, many of our radiation therapy team members specialize in a specific disease site, so that each patient who receives external radiotherapy at Moffitt will work with skilled professionals who truly understand the nuances of treating their exact diagnosis.