3D conformal radiation therapy (3D CRT) is a type of external-beam radiation. With this precise treatment, 3D images of the tumor are integrated into an advanced computer system to help develop an exact plan for delivering radiation to the target area. The goal of 3D CRT is to maximize the dose to the cancer while minimizing the exposure of normal, healthy tissue.
Acupuncture is a technique that involves the insertion of fine needles into specific points on the body. For patients with cancer, studies show acupuncture may be helpful in reducing pain as well as relieving nausea caused by chemotherapy.
Brachytherapy is an innovative form of internal radiation therapy that uses radioactive sources that are directly implanted into or around the tumor. Because brachytherapy delivers higher doses of radiation to more specific sites in the body, it allows for quicker treatment times and may lead to fewer side effects. Brachytherapy can be used either alone or in combination with other types of treatment.
A Computed Tomography (CT) scan is a special type of x-ray that looks at the different structures in the body such as the bones, lungs, lymph nodes, blood vessels, and other organs. A CT scan provides cross-sectional pictures of the body in slices, like a loaf of bread. The detailed information provided in these slices can assist in the diagnosis of a wide variety of medical conditions. The level of detail provided by a CT scan aids in the diagnosis and treatment planning for many medical conditions.
Chemotherapy, or chemo, is most commonly associated with the use of cytotoxic or “cell killing” chemical agents to destroy rapidly dividing cancer cells. Unlike localized forms of cancer treatment such as radiation or surgery, chemotherapy eliminates cancer cells throughout the entire body, which is why it is often referred to as systemic therapy. Chemo can be delivered with one drug as a single agent or in combination with other drugs. It may also be used in conjunction with other treatment modalities such as radiation therapy or surgery.
Financial counseling provides education and guidance for patients who are learning about insurance benefits and trying to determine how to best manage the out-of-pocket costs associated with cancer care. Financial counselors can help patients navigate coverage guidelines for Medicaid, Medicare, and commercial insurance plans; decipher insurance forms and reports; as well as determine payment options for insurance co-payments and deductibles.
High dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy is a form of internal radiation where high doses of radiation are delivered quickly during an outpatient procedure. For HDR, catheters are placed in or adjacent to the cancer tissue. A computer-driven apparatus, called a remote afterloading device, pushes the radiation source through the catheters to the tumor site. The source remains in place for a predetermined amount of time. When the desired dose has been achieved, the remote afterloading device withdraws the radioactive source.
Hormone or endocrine therapy
Hormone therapy represents a type of systemic cancer treatment, most frequently used in the treatment of prostate and breast cancers. Hormones are chemicals that the body produces naturally, such as testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone. In general, hormone therapy works either to lower the amount of hormone available or prevent the hormones from acting on the cancer cells, therefore minimizing the growth and spread of the cancer.
Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) is a revolutionary technology that uses frequent imaging throughout treatment to help the radiation oncologist track the tumor movement on a daily basis and adjust treatment accordingly. With the addition of IGRT, the original planning CT is performed. Daily CTs are then compared to the original, and adjustments are made to compensate for any tumor motion, resulting in more precise delivery of radiation.
Image recovery includes a wide range of services and tools that enable cancer patients to regain control over their appearance and well-being. Image recovery counselors help patients manage the side effects of cancer treatment and adjust to the physical and emotional changes brought on by chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery.
Immunotherapy is the use of the immune system to reject cancer by stimulating the patient’s immune system to attack the malignant tumor cells that are responsible for the disease.
A sophisticated form of external radiation, Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) allows the radiation beam to be more precisely shaped to the tumor. With IMRT, the radiation beam is segmented into several smaller beams. The physician is able to adjust the intensity of each beam and tightly conform to the shape of the tumor. This allows for delivery of the highest possible dose to the tumor while sparing surrounding, healthy tissue. This specialized technology increases the rate of tumor control, improves quality of life, reduces side effects, and preserves normal organ function.
Massage therapy involves the manipulation of soft tissues and muscles to relax the body and improve quality of life. It offers both physical and emotional benefits for patients at any stage of cancer care, from diagnosis and treatment through recovery. Several studies demonstrate the extensive health benefits of massage, including the management of many common symptoms and side effects associated with cancer and cancer treatment. Evidence also supports that it may help boost the immune system.
Molecularly targeted therapy
Cancer cells each carry specialized proteins or molecules that signal for the growth and division of the cells. Molecularly targeted agents are designed to block these specific molecules and prevent the messages telling the cell to grow or divide from being transmitted. This inhibits proliferation and replication of the cancer cells, ultimately resulting in their death. Specialized testing of the cancer cells helps physicians determine whether a particular cancer is likely to respond to the targeted agent based on the presence or absence of the target protein in or on the cells. Molecularly targeted agents can be used alone or in combination with cytotoxic chemotherapies.
Proper nutrition is an essential component of cancer care. Some cancer therapies have side effects that can make it difficult for patients to eat well, leading to weight loss and malnutrition and leaving a patient more susceptible to infection. Protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, and minerals provide the body with the necessary energy to better tolerate treatment, boost the immune system, and maintain quality of life.
Partial breast irradiation
Partial Breast Irradiation (PBI) is a treatment option for patients with early-stage breast cancer. While traditional radiation therapies treat the entire breast over a six to seven-week period, PBI is a five-day targeted therapy that treats only the lumpectomy cavity and neighboring tissue. Because a higher dose of radiation is delivered to the lumpectomy cavity, PBI is able to accomplish treatment in five days with good local tumor control and excellent cosmetic results.
An integrated Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography (PET/CT) scan is the most advanced imaging technology for the detection and evaluation of cancer. The whole-body scan generates high-resolution images of abnormal activity and its location. Abnormal biological activity often takes place before physical changes are identifiable by other imaging exams such as MRI, CT, x-ray, and ultrasound. A PET/CT scan provides images of the entire body, detecting primary and secondary disease earlier and more accurately than other imaging technology.
Physical therapy involves the use of therapeutic exercises and activities to rebuild muscle strength and coordination. The goals of physical therapy are to strengthen the body, restore movement, and help patients return to normal activities of daily living. Physical therapists develop individualized rehabilitation plans according to the type of cancer and the specific goals for the patient. Plans may include strength and balance training, ambulation, and range-of-motion exercises.
Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is a highly precise form of external beam radiation therapy that allows treatment of tumors in close proximity to critical structures, many of which may be inoperable due to their location. SRS delivers very potent doses to the tumor sites while minimizing damage to adjacent tissues. Stereotactic radiosurgery may be used to treat tumors in the brain or the body.
External radiation therapy (also called external-beam radiation therapy or XRT) uses a machine called a linear accelerator (or linac for short) to aim high-energy rays at the cancer from outside of the body.
The practice of yoga, which originated in India more than 5,000 years ago, integrates physical postures and mental relaxation exercises to achieve a connection between the body and mind. Clinical evidence supports the many therapeutic benefits of yoga for reducing symptoms associated with cancer and cancer treatment.