NCCN Guidelines for Patients
: Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
Part 6: Overview of cancer treatments
Par t 1
Par t 2
Par t 3
Par t 4
Par t 5
Par t 6
Par t 7
Par t 8
Par t 9
6.2 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. Radiation can also harm normal cells. As a result, new methods
keep being made that target the tumor more precisely. The current standard
of radiation therapy is described next. It is suggested that a board-certified
radiation oncologist who often treats lung cancer be on your treatment team
if you may have radiation therapy.
Radiation therapy can be given with either one of two methods. The first method
is called EBRT (
herapy). For EBRT, a machine outside
the body delivers radiation. Radiation is often given in a series of sessions for
about 6 weeks. This is the more common method used to treat lung cancer.
The other method is internal radiation therapy (also called brachytherapy).
Internal radiation therapy involves placing a radioactive object in or near the
tumor. For lung cancer, internal radiation can shrink a tumor blocking an airway.
Radiation is given through a plastic tube that is inserted into the airway. The
tube is removed after the treatment session.
To receive radiation therapy, you first must have a simulation session.
For simulation, pictures of the tumor are taken. CT scans are suggested
for simulation, but 4D-CT (four-
omography) is ideal
to account for tumor movement from breathing. Contrast can improve scans
of tumors in the inner two-thirds of the lung or of lymph nodes with cancer.
A PET/CT scan can help to aim radiation beams when the lung has collapsed
or contrast can’t be used. PET/CT scans within 4 weeks of treatment are
suggested. If your breathing causes large movements, motion control methods
during the scans may be used.
status to identify doctors
who finished training
in a specialized field of
A dye used to
make clearer images
within cells for creating new
cells and controlling how
the lung’s air sacs
A doctor who’s an expert
in treating cancer with
= computed tomography
= positron emission