External Beam Radiation

Dr_ Kathryn Greven treating Radiation Oncology patient

External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT) can be used in conjunction with surgery, chemotherapy, brachytherapy and a variety of other techniques used in cancer treatment.

Various EBRT techniques can be used to deliver the radiation beams produced by a Linear accelerator (Linac) to the target. Among the newer treatment options for cancer of the prostate, brain, lung, and head & neck are two methods of focusing radiation on the tumor with its microenvironment and avoiding surrounding normal tissues: a three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3-D RT) and intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). 3-D RT planning attempts to shape the radiation fields as close as possible to the true tumor size and shape, hence the term "Conformal". 

3-D RT and IMRT methods both use a CT image for general anatomic information and sometimes an MRI and/or PET images for soft tissue detailed information of the patient to perform the radiation dose calculations. An IMRT planning involves inverse radiation dose calculations and treatment delivery optimization step. The most optimal IMRT plan is then delivered with a computer-controlled Linac to conform or “paint” the radiation dose very precisely matching the shape of the tumor and avoiding critical structures that may be only millimeters away.

Such treatments are delivered with a varying or modulated radiation beam intensity, hence the term “Intensity Modulated” radiation therapy. In combination with advanced imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance spectroscopy and positron emission tomography (PET) that image both tumor anatomy and biology, IMRT holds great promise for improving local tumor control and survival, even in the most resistant and aggressive human cancers.

Daily treatment sessions using EBRT usually only last 15 to 20 minutes; this includes both set-up (patient positioning) and treatment times. Treatments are usually given 5 days a week and last from 4 to 8 weeks.  

See what to expect during your first appointment.

Quick Reference

Radiation Oncology

Main 336-713-3600
Fax 336-713-6622

Radiation Oncology
Wake Forest Baptist Health
1st Floor, Outpatient
Comprehensive Cancer Center
Winston-Salem, NC 27157
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Last Updated: 10-14-2015
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Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.