Common Cancer Types
While there are over 200 different types of cancer, the ones we see most often at Central Alabama Radiation Oncology are discussed here.
In the United States, more than 20,000 new cases of brain cancer are reported each year. Brain tumors are abnormal growths of cells in the brain. There are two types of brain cancer, primary and metastatic. Primary brain cancer originates in the brain and it occurs when one type of cell transforms from its normal characteristics. Once transformed, the cells grow and multiply in abnormal ways. As the abnormal cells grow, they become a mass or tumor. Metastatic brain cancer tumors are made from cancerous cells from a tumor located elsewhere in the body. This is the most common type of brain cancer.
At Central Alabama Radiation Oncology, we treat both primary and metastatic brain cancer. A patient diagnosed with a brain tumor, whether the tumor is primary or metastatic, will have a custom made facemask to aid with their radiotherapy treatments. The mask has holes throughout it so that the patient can both see and breathe freely. The number of treatments a patient receives is dependent on the doctor’s review of their specific case.
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women; however male breast cancer is not uncommon and should be taken seriously. Breast cancer stages vary widely. The type of radiation therapy used to treat breast cancer also varies and depends, to a great extent, on the stage of cancer and whether surgery has been performed.
Breast cancer can be treated with two types of radiation – external beam radiation and Brachytherapy. Brachytherapy involves the implantation of radioactive material near the site of the cancer. Your radiation oncologist will counsel you on the most effective type of radiation therapy for your treatment.
A typical breast cancer patient will receive 33-36 treatments, depending on the doctor’s orders. The patient will have marks on their skin that will facilitate their radiation therapist with their daily setup. Furthermore, the patient will have a customized immobilization device to aid in the daily setup for their radiation treatments.
Head and Neck cancers start in the mouth, nose, throat, or sinus areas. They usually begin in the cells that make up the moist, thin tissues that line the inside of the mouth, nose and throat. Head and neck cancer does not include brain cancer.
The treatment for head and neck cancers vary and depend upon a number of factors such as exact location of the tumor, stage of the cancer and the patient’s age and general health. You and your physician will consider treatment options carefully and develop a radiation treatment plan.
Lung cancer occurs when cells of the lung start growing rapidly in an uncontrolled manner. There are two main types of lung cancer – small-cell lung cancer (SCLC, also called oat cell cancer) and non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Small-cell lung cancer accounts for approximately 10% - 15% of all cases of lung cancer.
Radiation therapy may be recommended for both SCLC and NSCLC, sometimes in combination with chemotherapy. A lung patient typically receives 36 treatments. The number of treatments depends on the doctor’s orders regarding the staging of the particular case. A lung patient will have a custom made treatment device molded around them placing their arms above their head to assist with their daily radiation therapy setup. The patient will have 3 marks on their skin that will be used for setup for their daily treatments.
Prostate cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers among men. Your prostate cancer treatment options will be discussed thoroughly with your physician.
Treatment of prostate cancer with radiation can be delivered in two ways – external beam radiation delivered by one of Central Alabama Radiation Oncology’s state of the art machines; or internal radiation (brachytherapy) delivered through radioactive material placed into the affected area.
A prostate patient will receive between 39-45 treatments, depending on the doctor’s orders. The patient will have 3 marks on their skin that will be used for setup of daily treatments. To facilitate the treatment, prostate patients are asked to drink at least 16 oz. of water 30 minutes prior to receiving their daily treatment.
Other types of cancers that we treat at Central Alabama Radiation Oncology include skin, cervical, colorectal, bladder, kidney and ovarian, among others. More information on these types of cancers and their treatment can be found in the Helpful Links section.