Radiation Therapy for Soft Tissue Sarcomas
Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation beams aim to destroy the tumor, while sparing the surrounding healthy tissue.
How will radiation therapy treat my soft tissue sarcoma?
Radiation therapy may be used by itself, as the only treatment needed to treat the cancer; at other times, it is used in conjunction with surgery and chemotherapy.
- Neoadjuvant radiotherapy is radiation treatment before an operation, to shrink the tumor and make it easier to remove.
- Adjuvant radiotherapy is given after surgery, to destroy any remaining cancer cells. Sometimes, radiation may be given both before and after surgery.
How is radiation therapy given?
There are two kinds of radiation therapy:
- External beam radiation therapy. The radiation is delivered from a machine outside the body. You receive treatment every day for a few weeks.
- Internal radiation therapy or brachytherapy. Your doctor places an active radioactive seed directly on the tumor, destroying it from the inside.
What to Expect From External Beam Radiation Therapy
External beam radiation therapy is planned very carefully. The goal is to carefully sculpt the radiation beam so only the tumor is affected and the surrounding healthy tissue is spared.
- You undergo a series of computed tomography (CT) scans in order to accurately shape the radiation beam to match your tumor.
- Your skin is marked to show where the rays should be directed.
- During the treatment session, you need to lie very still so the radiation beam reaches only the affected area.
- The treatment session lasts between 10—15 minutes.
There are side effects of radiation therapy, depending on the area being treated and the dose of radiation received. Side effects include hair loss, skin sensitivity and fatigue.
Learn more about radiation oncology at Wake Forest.