The radiation beam is usually generated by a machine called a linear accelerator, or linac. The linear accelerator is able to produce high-energy X-rays or electrons for the treatment of your cancer. Using treatment planning computers and software, your treatment team controls the size and shape of the beam, as well as how it is directed at your body, to effectively treat your tumor while sparing the surrounding normal tissue. There are several special types of external beam radiation therapy used for specific types of cancer.
Stereotactic radiotherapy was first developed to treat brain tumors in a single dose, sometimes called stereotactic radiosurgery or SRS. In addition to treating cancers, radiosurgery can also be used to treat benign tumors and certain noncancerous neurologic conditions. In some cases, using more than a single dose may help decrease the risk of side effects with stereotactic radiation therapy.
Treatment outside the brain is called stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT). It is typically given in a few treatments. Often used for the lung, spine or liver, SBRT may allow radiation to be given in a way that is safer and more effective than other radiation techniques.
Because specialized treatments with stereotactic radiation are often much higher doses than daily radiation treatment, additional precision and quality assurance is necessary. This involves using very secure immobilization of the head or body as well as using techniques that allow the radiation beam to account for organ motion during treatment. Stereotactic radiation offers new ways for your doctor to treat cancer. In many clinics, these technologies are called by the name of the vendor that makes it or the product name.
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