Radiation therapy may be used in different ways to help treat gynecologic cancers. After surgery for a cervical cancer diagnosis, radiation therapy may be used for patients who have intermediate- or high-risk features, such as positive lymph nodes detected after surgery. Radiation may also be used for patients who are not surgical candidates. When used in concert with chemotherapy, radiation becomes more effective in treating cervical cancer.
Radiation also may be used to manage localized vaginal and vulvar cancers. For most patients, a combination of internal and external radiation techniques may be the most effective. A low-dose, sensitizing chemotherapy may be given to enhance the effects of radiation. Johns Hopkins offers innovative radiation therapies that cover the broad spectrum of gynecologic cancers.
Our Team Of Gynecologic Cancer Experts
Our radiation oncologists use the following radiation therapies to treat vaginal and vulvar cancers:
- Three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy – For this technique, imaging scans are used to create a three-dimensional model of the exact shape and size of the tumor. Then multiple radiation beams are aimed at the tumor shape, sparing nearby healthy tissue.
- Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) – IMRT delivers targeted radiation doses to the tumor site, patterned to match the shape of the tumor through modulating the intensity of the radiation beams.
- Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) – This delivers very high doses of focused radiation to a small area. By using very sophisticated technology, the radiation oncologist can increase the intensity of the radiation while compressing the amount of radiation into only a few sessions.
- Proton therapy – This form of targeted radiation treatment uses energy from positively charged particles called protons. Protons very precisely zero in on tumors, delivering most of their cancer-fighting energy directly to cancer cells while minimizing radiation exposure and damage to neighboring healthy tissue and organs.
- Brachytherapy – Radioactive implants are placed as close to the cancer as possible. Johns Hopkins offers complex brachytherapy, involving advanced imaging techniques to precisely locate the tumor.