What is Radiation Therapy?Stopping Cancer one cell at a time
What is Radiation Therapy?
- Radiation Therapy is the use of X-Rays or charged particles to kill cancerous cells. Radiotherapy plays a part in curing cancer in virtually all sites of the body. About half of all cancer patients receive some type of radiation therapy sometime during the course of their treatment.
- Radiation treatments are typically daily treatments lasting only a few minutes delivered over the course of several weeks.
- Radiation treatments are not painful and are completely non-invasive; there are no needles and no knives.
- In the vast majority of cases, patients can drive themselves to and from treatment while maintaining their usual daily activities such as work, exercise, leisure, and intimacy.
- Side effects of treatment build up gradually over the course of therapy and typically go away with time. The specific side effects of treatment depend on the area of the body receiving radiation and will be reviewed in full during your initial consultation and again in weekly doctor visits during therapy.
How Does Radiation Therapy Work?
- Radiation may come from outside the body (external beam radiation) or from radioactive materials placed in the tumor (brachytherapy or internal radiation) or injected in the veins (radiopharmaceuticals).
- Radiation kills cancer cells by damaging their DNA. Cancer cells whose DNA is damaged beyond repair stop dividing and die. When the damaged cells die, they are broken down and are harmlessly eliminated by the body’s natural processes such as the immune system. Radiation can also damage healthy cells. Our state-of-the-art technology allows us to protect these tissues and anticipate the amount of radiation they receive to avoid any excess exposure. Additionally, radiation is delivered in small amounts on a daily basis over many weeks to allow these healthy cells to recover and repair overnight before the next treatment. Cancer cells by nature lack many of the repair mechanisms that healthy cells use to repair the DNA damage from radiation. By spreading out treatment over several weeks, we take advantage of this difference to eradicate cancer while allowing the healthy cells to survive.