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Am Fam Physician. 2008 Dec 1;78(11):1254-62.

Recent advances in radiation therapy.

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Division of Hematology-Oncology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas 75390-8852, USA.


Recent advances have improved the effectiveness, decreased the complications, and expanded the implications of radiation therapy. These advances include three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy, stereotactic radiotherapy, brachytherapy, and radioimmunotherapy. Each of these modalities has improved radiation targeting, thereby limiting radiation exposure of healthy tissues. The way radiation therapy is administered has also changed. Although traditional external beam radiation therapy is administered daily over several weeks, stereotactic radiotherapy may be administered as a one-time treatment. Radioimmunotherapy is administered intravenously. Contemporary radiation techniques also have distinct toxicity profiles. The high radiation doses employed during stereotactic radiotherapy have been associated with obliteration or obstruction of tubular structures, such as bronchi and bile ducts, limiting its use near these tissues. Radioimmunotherapy may be complicated by anaphylactic reactions during and following infusions. As more patients are diagnosed with cancer and as these patients live longer, primary care physicians will increasingly care for those who have received radiation therapy.

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