Radiation therapy ~ Health Guide

Health Guide

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Radiation therapy

Written by Mystic on Monday, August 04, 2008

What is radiation therapy?

Radiation Therapy is high-energy radiation such as x-rays and/or gamma rays used to destroy cancer cells and stop them from growing and multiplying. The terms, radiotherapy, x-ray therapy or irradiation are also commonly used.

There are many different types of radiation therapy, and the type chosen depends on the individual patient and the type of cancer.

The medical speciality of treatment of cancer by radiation is called Radiation Oncology and the doctor treating you is a Radiation Oncologist.

Where do you have your treatment?

Radiation therapy requires expertise and specially trained staff. This is why radiotherapy departments are located in larger regional and teaching hospitals.

Radiation therapy departments are run in different ways, and their operations may vary slightly from region to region. While most of the information in this booklet is fairly general, it will apply to most departments, although some things may be done a little differently at your treatment centre.

How does radiation therapy work?

Radiation therapy is a local treatment and in sufficient doses, kills cancer cells in the area of the body being treated because cancer cells are more sensitive to radiation than normal cells.

The normal cells in the treated areas will be affected to some extent but they are able to repair the damage caused by radiation.

Treatments are planned to cause as little damage as possible to healthy cells whilst ensuring the cancer receives an adequate dose.

How is it used in treating cancer?

Radiation is an extremely versatile form of treatment. For some kinds of cancer, radiation alone is enough to destroy the cancer. In other cases, it is used in combination with surgery and/or chemotherapy.

It may be used before surgery to "shrink" a cancer or after surgery to keep any remaining cancer cells from growing again.

Radiation treatment also has a very important role in relieving symptoms caused by cancer by reducing pressure, bleeding or pain.

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