Types of Radiation Therapy for Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is usually treated with external beam radiation therapy (EBRT).
Mesothelioma specialists may use different EBRT approaches depending on the goal of treatment and other factors such as mesothelioma type, stage, the tumor’s location, and the overall health of the patient.
Emerging types of radiation therapy are also providing hope for safer, more effective ways of treating mesothelioma.
External Beam Radiation Therapy
External beam radiation therapy is the most common type of radiation therapy. As the name suggests, EBRT is administered through the skin from outside the body. EBRT is becoming increasingly more effective at targeting tumors, thanks to technologic advancements.
Before beginning radiation therapy, doctors must determine precisely where to aim the radiation and how much to administer. To do this, they examine the patient closely by imaging the body.
Mesothelioma tumors are often irregularly shaped and form in separate areas, so targeting the cancer can be complicated.
Did You Know?
To fully target a tumor, doctors now use a technique called intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT).
The IMRT method alters the strength, pattern, and shape of radiation beams to apply radiation more directly and protect the surrounding tissue. This technique allows doctors to conform the radiation beam to the precise shape of the tumor and fine-tune the radiation doses.
Intraoperative Radiation Therapy
Intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) is a type of EBRT radiation therapy approach used to support surgery. IORT is administered inside the body while the tumor site is exposed during surgery.
By applying radiation therapy directly to the open mesothelioma site, doctors can increase surgical success by preventing mesothelioma cells from spreading.
The IORT approach also prevents damage to healthy tissues since radiation does not pass through the skin from the outside.
Only used on early-stage mesothelioma patients, IORT can further increase life expectancy from surgery-based treatment plans. Depending on a patient’s exact diagnosis, doctors may recommend the IORT approach with pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma surgeries.
Brachytherapy or internal radiation is a type of radiation therapy that works by inserting a radioactive device inside of a patient’s tumor.
Brachytherapy lets doctors use higher doses of radiation in more specific places than traditional radiation therapy would allow.
Doctors may apply brachytherapy in many ways:
- Inserting the radioactive source during surgery
- Inserting the radioactive source with the use of an imaging scan
- Applying it temporarily after surgery to prevent cancer from spreading
Brachytherapy is rarely used to treat mesothelioma, but its effectiveness in treating lung cancer gives some doctors hope that it may help in the future treatment of mesothelioma.
New Radiation Techniques For Mesothelioma
Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is an advanced type of radiation therapy that can make radiation particles fit the shape of the targeted tumor. This makes IMRT more accurate and effective and less damaging than older radiation techniques.