Radiation therapy, or radiotherapy, is a type of ionizing radiation used to kill cancer cells. Basically, ionizing radiation is a beam of intense energy waves that destroy the cells. Thoracic radiation oncologists are the specialists who conduct this non-invasive type of therapy. Their goal is to target cancer cells without harming healthy tissue. With mesothelioma, radiation therapy may help to alleviate symptoms and to reduce or eliminate cancer cells that might remain after surgery. Because it is targeted to the tumor, radiation is often effective with minimized side effects for the patient.
Typically, radiation is administered one of two ways:
- Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) – This technique use an imaging technique to ensure that the radiation beams are centered on the tumor before each treatment begins.
- Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) or 3D-conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT) - These two techniques use computerized planning to focus the delivery of the radiation beams. This type of therapy ensures maximum delivery of radiation to the tumor and spares the healthy tissue nearby.