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Radiation Can Limit the Spread of Metastatic Cancer

December 20, 2019
When cancer has spread to other parts of the body, radiation may be an important treatment option to consider. Dr. Matthew Boyer, radiation oncologist at GBMC, discussed how targeted radiation, integrated as part of a complete cancer treatment plan, has the potential to improve the outcome of treatment and slow the disease’s spread.

“For patients whose cancer has spread to no more than five other tumors in their body, targeted radiation can offer benefits with fairly minimal side effects,” Dr. Boyer explained. “Five treatments of about 10 minutes of radiation that precisely target the tumors damages the cancer cells’ DNA. Some die right away and others become so damaged they can’t divide and create more cancer cells. Early studies have found that targeted radiation not only improves the length of time before metastatic cancer spreads further, it can also increase the length of time that patients live.”

Targeted radiation is integrated with other treatments, including surgery and chemotherapy. Some studies also suggest that it may improve the effectiveness of immunotherapy, making the patient’s immune system more active and better able to fight the cancer.

Dr. Boyer explained that GBMC’s cancer specialists take a multidisciplinary approach to treating each patient, bringing together medical, surgical, and radiation oncologists as well as pathologists, physical therapists, nutritionists, and other specialists to develop a coordinated, comprehensive treatment plan tailored to each patient. He also noted that there are support services for patients and their families as they move through treatment into survivorship.
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