What is Radiation Therapy?
Radiation Therapy is a treatment that uses x-rays to damage cancer cells. Radiation treatment only affects the part of the body where beams are aimed. You do not feel radiation as it is being delivered.
Why is Radiation Therapy used?
Radiation Therapy is often in addition to other cancer treatment (surgery, chemotherapy , and/or hormone therapy).
- To shrink a tumour so that surgery is more effective.
- To treat any cancer cells remaining after surgery.
- To control cancers – slow cancer progression.
- To relieve cancer symptoms such as pain
How is Radiation Therapy delivered?
Radiation treatment can be given in two ways: from outside the body (external beam) or inside the body (internal).
External Beam Radiation Therapy
This is the most common method. Radiation beams from a treatment unit (linear accelerator or superficial machine) are focused from outside the body into the area affected by cancer.
Treatments are usually given Monday to Friday with a rest at the weekend to help normal cells recover. Almost everyone is treated as an outpatient.
The superficial machine is usually used to treat skin cancers. External beam radiation therapy is typically given over a number of days or weeks.
Internal Radiation Rherapy (Brachytherapy)
Brachytherapy involves placing a radioactive source inside your body, on or near the cancer. This procedure may or may not require a general anaesthetic.
In some cases, a combination of both external and internal radiation therapy is used.
Radioactive iodine in a liquid or capsule form can also be given for different thyroid conditions.