What is it and what happens afterwards?
Radiation Therapy is a treatment that uses radiation from high energy X-ray machines to kill cancer cells. Most people call it radiation. It is also known as radiotherapy, X-ray therapy, or irradiation. Radiation is one of many ways to treat cancer, and sometimes other diseases.
Your body is made up of many types of cells. Each cell works in a special way to keep us healthy. Cancer forms when a group of cells that are not normal grow and spread out of control. These abnormal cells can affect the way your body normally works. Because your body cannot stop or control the growth of the cancer cells by itself, your doctor may suggest that you have radiation to kill the cancer cells.
Radiation therapy is given to the specific area where the cancer is present or might spread. For this reason, it is called a local treatment.
à Stop cancer cells from growing and spreading
à Control or slow down the growth and spread of the cancer cells
à Shrink the size of cancer
Why is radiation recommended?
For some kinds of cancers, radiation is given on its
Control your cancer for a while
Reduce the chance of cancer coming back
Help stop or decrease cancer symptoms, such as pain
Radiation therapy is sometimes used with other treatments such as surgery and chemotherapy. Your radiation oncologist ( a doctor who has special training to shrink the cancer using radiation) might suggest that you have radiation to shrink the cancer before you have surgery to remove it. Sometimes people have radiation after surgery, to kill any cancer cells that may have been left behind when the cancer was removed. Your radiation oncologist will explain why radiation is recommended for you.
What are the different types of radiation treatment?
à From outside your body - this is called External beam radiation
The treatment machine will be set up above, behind, or beside you. The machine may move around you during the treatment.
External beam radiation is usually given as a series of treatments, 5 days a week.
à From inside your body -this is called Brachytherapy (pronounced brack-ee-ther-a-pee)
Brachytherapy is a form of internal radiation treatment. It uses radioactive seeds or sources that are placed in or near the cancer itself. In some cases you may need to go to the operating room to have special applicators put into place to deliver the treatment.
The number of treatments you will have depends on:
Type of cancer you have
The type of radiation treatment you are having
How well your cancer responds to the radiation
The goal of treatment (for example, to stop pain or to cure your cancer)
You may have one treatment or you may have many weeks of treatment
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