Radiation therapy (also called radiotherapy) is a treatment for cancer that uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and stop them from spreading. About 60% of people with cancer receive radiation therapy.
Internal vs. External Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy can be delivered externally or internally. With external treatment, focused beams of radiation are delivered via a linear accelerator (linac). The radiation passes through the body and delivers a dose to the affected area while minimizing the dose to the skin and tissue it passes through.
Radiation can also be delivered internally, where a radiation source is placed inside the body (also called brachytherapy). Although the radiation affects both cancer and normal cells, it has a greater effect on the cancer cells, damaging their genetic material and making it impossible for them to continue to grow and divide.
Uses of Radiation Therapy
Radiation treatment is used to both cure and alleviate the symptoms of cancer. In pursuit of a cure, radiation can be used:
- After diagnosis to eliminate tumors that have not spread to other parts of the body
- Before surgery to shrink a cancerous tumor
- After surgery or chemotherapy to kill any remaining cancer cells
If palliative care is the goal, radiation can be used to:
- Shrink tumors that are harming your quality of life or impeding normal bodily function
- Shrink tumors that are causing pain
At the Leever Cancer Center, we have the specialists, equipment and expertise to provide various types of radiation therapy. Please consult your doctor for more information.
How to Prepare
Learn more about how to prepare for radiation therapy treatment.