Radiation therapy is a treatment for cancer that uses high-energy X-rays. A machine directs the rays of energy to the area of cancer, with a goal to kill or shrink cancer cells.
When might radiation therapy be used for a sarcoma?
Most often, bone patients will not receive radiation therapy as a major part of their treatment. Most sarcomas are not easily affected by radiation, and high doses are needed to see results. Typically, radiation is used when a tumor cannot be completely removed by surgery.
- External radiation. This is also known as external beam therapy (EBRT), the most common treatment for sarcoma. This treatment sends high levels of radiation directly to cancer cells. Since radiation is used to kill cancer cells and to shrink tumors, special shields may be used to protect the tissue surrounding the treated area.
- Brachytherapy. This treatment places small pellets of radioactive material near the sarcoma. For small-tissue sarcoma, these pellets are placed during surgery using thin tubes, also known as catheters, and release radiation to fight the sarcoma. Brachytherapy may be the only form of radiation therapy available to be partnered with external beam radiation.