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Radiation therapy for osteosarcoma uses high-energy X-rays to destroy cancerous cells and prevent them from multiplying and spreading. As a type of localized treatment, radiation therapy is generally recommended for treating bone cancer that has not spread beyond its site of origin. It can also be used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for cancers that have metastasized to other areas. Because osteosarcomas tend to be resistant to radiation therapy, this form of treatment is usually most effective when used in combination with other therapies – whether or not the tumors have spread.

Because effective treatment involves so many variables, patients are encouraged to turn to a high-volume cancer center like Moffitt Cancer Center, which has a multispecialty treatment team that includes radiation oncologists, dosimetrists, physicists, surgeons, medical oncologists, medical gastroenterologists, nutritionists and other medical professionals. Each of these experts is highly experienced in his or her area of specialty, and each provides invaluable input into the development of a patient’s overall treatment plan.

When radiation therapy is advised for a patient with osteosarcoma, the most common form recommended is external beam radiation therapy (EBRT), which is:

  • Carefully planned so that it will penetrate the patient’s skin, tissues and organs to deliver radiation to a precisely targeted cancer site, which may be located deep within his or her body, while avoiding as many healthy tissues as possible
  • Delivered via an external machine called a linear accelerator
  • Tested during a simulation session, in which a radiation oncologist positions the linear accelerator and makes a mark on the patient’s body to identify the “treatment fields” where the high-energy beams will be directed
  • Administered in daily treatments (Monday through Friday) over the course of several weeks
  • Typically fast and pain-free, although some patients experience temporary skin irritation throughout the course of treatment

Moffitt also has a renowned research team that continues to make significant progress in advancing the treatment options for osteosarcoma through specialized types of radiation therapy. For instance, we are currently evaluating the effectiveness of several promising alternatives to EBRT, including intraoperative radiation therapy, three-dimensional conformal radiation, intensity-modulated radiation therapy, brachytherapy and bone-seeking isotropes. Through these efforts, our patient outcomes and quality of life are continually improving, and we are continually getting closer to one day finding a cure.

If you'd like to learn more about radiation therapy for osteosarcoma, the experts at Moffitt can explain your options and help you make informed choices. Call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online. We see patients with and without referrals.