Coastal Radiation Oncology Medical Group
world-class cancer care has a local address.

Oncology Terminology

Understanding Cancer Radiation Treatment

Below is a list of medical terms often used during cancer treatment:

  • Adjuvant Treatment +

    A treatment that is given in addition to the primary treatment to enhance its effectiveness and reduce the chance of the tumor recurring.
  • Applicator +

    A device used to hold a radioactive source in place during brachytherapy.
  • Beam Films +

    Another term for port films, beam films are pictures of the position of the radiation beams used to treat cancer. They are used to verify the position of the beams and confirm that treatment is delivered to the right place.
  • Blocks +

    Pieces of metal alloy that can be used to shape the radiation beam.
  • Boost +

    An additional dose of radiation that is given after an initial course of radiation to enhance tumor control. A boost may be given to the tumor and areas to which the tumor may have spread.
  • Brachytherapy +

    Internal radiation therapy that involves placing radioactive sources inside or adjacent to the tumor.
  • Cancer +

    A group of diseases in which abnormal cells divide uncontrollably, forming a tumor or mass.
  • Catheter +

    A tube inserted into the body that can be used to deliver radiation during brachytherapy.
  • Clinical Trials +

    Studies that test new cancer therapies.
  • CT or CAT Scan +

    A computer assisted tomography scan is an X-ray procedure that uses a computer to produce detailed pictures of the body.
  • High-Dose-Rate Brachytherapy +

    HDR brachytherapy is a dependable and highly developed form of internal radiation therapy delivered through catheters to the exact site of a cancerous tumor. This procedure is typically repeated over several treatments to quickly deliver a high dose of radiation to the tumor.

    Compared to low-dose-rate radioactive seeds that are implanted for extended periods of time, the higher doses used in HDR brachytherapy deliver equivalent radiation in just a few minutes by inserting and then removing the radioactive material. HDR brachytherapy may be given as the only treatment or it may be combined in a treatment plan with external radiation therapy.

    HDR treatment is often faster than other types of treatment, and can be performed on an outpatient basis. Most importantly, the precision and limited exposure to healthy tissue HDR provides translates to excellent success rates for certain types of cancers.
  • Hyperfractionated Radiation Therapy +

    A type of radiation therapy in which the radiation doses are divided into smaller amounts (hyperfractionation) and patients undergo radiation treatment more than once a day.
  • Hypofractionated Radiation Therapy +

    A type of radiation therapy in which patients undergo one or just a few treatments.
  • Immobilization Device +

    A device that is used to help a patient remain in the same position during every treatment.
  • Implants +

    Another term for brachytherapy, internal radiation therapy involves placing radioactive sources inside the patient close to or in the tumor.
  • Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy or IMRT +

    IMRT is a specialized form of external beam therapy that allows radiation to be shaped to fit your tumor.
  • Interstitial Brachytherapy +

    A form of seed implant where the radioactive sources are placed directly into the tumor, such as the prostate.
  • Intracavity Brachytherapy +

    A type of brachytherapy where the radioactive seeds are put into a space where the tumor is located, such as the cervix or windpipe.
  • Linear Accelerator +

    The most common type of machine used to deliver external radiation therapy. Sometimes called a "linac."
  • Metastases +

    Cancer that has spread from one part of the body to another, such as from the breast to the lymph nodes or bones.
  • Monoclonal Antibody +

    A type of antibody that is created in the laboratory.
  • MR or MRI Scan +

    A magnetic resonance imaging scan is a procedure that uses a magnetic field to create detailed pictures of the body.
  • Multileaf Collimator or MLC +

    A part of a linear accelerator that is used to shape the radiation beam.
  • Neutron Beam Therapy +

    A specialized type of external beam radiation therapy similar to proton therapy.
  • Palliative Care/Palliation +

    Treatment that is intended to relieve symptoms, but not cure disease.
  • PET Scan +

    A positron emission tomography scan uses a small dose of a chemical called a radionuclide combined with a sugar, which is injected into the patient. The radionuclide emits positrons. The PET scanner detects the positron emissions given off by the radionuclide.
  • Proton Beam Therapy +

    An external beam therapy that uses protons rather than X-rays to treat tumors.
  • Radiation Oncologist +

    A doctor who specializes in treating cancer and other diseases with radiation therapy.
  • Radiation Oncology +

    The medical specialty that deals with treating cancer and other diseases with radiation.
  • Radiation Therapy +

    The careful use of various forms of radiation to treat cancer and other diseases.
  • Radioimmunotherapy +

    The use of radiolabeled antibodies to deliver radiation directly to a tumor.
  • Radiolabeled Antibodies +

    Monoclonal antibodies (antibodies produced in a laboratory) that have had a radioactive isotope attached to them in a process called radiolabeling.
  • Radioprotector +

    A type of drug that protects normal tissues in the area being treated.
  • Radioresistant +

    A term used to describe a tumor that does not respond well to radiation therapy.
  • Radiosensitize +

    A type of drug that can make a tumor respond better to radiation therapy.
  • Simulation +

    The process of planning radiation therapy to allow the radiation to be delivered to the intended location.
  • Systemic Radiation Therapy +

    The use of radioactive isotopes that can travel throughout the body to treat certain cancers.
  • Stereotactic Radiosurgery or SRS +

    SRS is a non-invasive alternative to conventional surgery for the treatment of both malignant and benign tumors located anywhere in the body. At Coastal, we provide SRS through the GammaKnife system. Stereotactic radiosurgery may also be used to treat cancers of the body, which is called Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy.
  • Treatment Plan +

    A radiation oncologist’s prescription describing how a patient should be treated with radiation therapy. The radiation oncology team uses sophisticated treatment planning software to maximize radiation to the tumor while sparing healthy tissue.
  • Tumor +

    An abnormal lump or mass of tissue.
  • Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy (VMAT) +

    Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy (VMAT) technology allows more for precise and significantly shorter cancer treatments than many other existing external-beam radiation therapy techniques currently in use. In fact, VMAT delivers treatments two to eight times faster than most dynamic therapy technologies and increases precision by providing better target coverage.
  • Proton Beam Therapy (2) +

    An external beam therapy that uses protons rather than X-rays to treat tumors.
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