NCCN Guidelines for Patients
: Esophageal Cancer
Part 4: Overview of cancer treatments
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A set of coded
instructions in cells needed
to make new cells and
control how cells behave
4.3 Radiation therapy
Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to treat cancer. The rays damage
the genes of a cell. This either kills the cancer cells or stops new cancer cells
from being made. For esophageal cancer, radiation therapy is often given with
chemotherapy. Chemotherapy may improve how well radiation works. This
combined treatment is called chemoradiation.
For esophageal cancer, radiation is often given using a machine outside the
body. This method is called EBRT (
herapy). To receive
radiation therapy, you first must have a simulation session. For simulation, CT
scans or PET may be used to help target the tumor with radiation.
Using the scans, your treatment team will plan the best radiation dose, number
and shape of radiation beams, and number of treatment sessions. Beams are
shaped with computer software and hardware added to the radiation machine.
Radiation beams are aimed at the tumor with help from ink marks on the skin or
marker seeds in the tumor.
During treatment, you will lie on a table in the same position as done for
simulation. Devices may be used to keep you from moving so that the radiation
targets the tumor. You will be alone while the technician operates the machine
from a nearby room. He or she will be able to see, hear, and speak with you at
all times. As treatment is given, you may hear noises. One session can take less
than 10 minutes.
An esophageal tumor is harder to target than some other tumors in the body.
This is because breathing causes the tumor to move. IGRT (
herapy) is a type of EBRT that can improve how well the radiation
beam targets the tumor. IGRT uses a machine that delivers radiation and
also takes pictures of the tumor. Pictures can be taken right before or during
treatment. These pictures are compared to the ones taken during simulation.
If needed, changes will be made to your body position or the radiation beams.
= positron emission