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Home >> Specialities >> Cancer Care >> Radiation Therapy

Radiation Therapy

Radiation Therapy is a common cancer treatment modality that involves the use of internally or externally delivered radiation to target the tumor. It can be used as a curative treatment for targeting various different cancers, provided they are localized. Radiation therapy can also be included in your treatment plan as adjuvant therapy, so as to alleviate the risks of cancer recurrence. Radiation therapy can be given in a limited amount only and once a specific part of your body reaches that limit, you cannot undergo the procedure in that area again. 

What is Radiation Therapy?
Radiation Therapy, also known as radiotherapy, uses high-intensity ionizing radiation or radioactive seeds for killing malignant cells. Cancer is caused by abnormal changes in the DNA of the cells. Ionizing radiations that are delivered during chemotherapy help to target the cancerous cells and damage their faulty DNA, thereby making them incapable of multiplying any further. Radiation therapy offers higher precision as compared to chemotherapy, thereby making it possible to spare the surrounding healthy tissues and organs to a greater extent.

What are the different types of Radiation Therapy?
Depending upon the approach that the doctors use to deliver the treatment, radiation therapy can be broadly classified into two different types. These are:

  • External Beam Radiation Therapy - It is a type of radiation therapy that uses special machines to aim the radiation at the concerned area. These radiations can be delivered via different angles to target cancer more precisely. The treatment is local and targets a specific area instead of the whole body. 
  • Internal Radiation Therapy - It is the type of radiation therapy that involves the placement of radioactive seeds within the body of the patient, so as to deliver the radiation from within. Doctors may also use a radioactive liquid, capsule, or ribbon. If the radioactive source is solid, the treatment is localized and referred to as brachytherapy, and if the radioactive source is liquid, the treatment is systemic.

What is the goal of Radiation Therapy?
Radiation Therapy may be recommended by doctors to achieve several different goals, depending upon the specific needs and requirements of the patients. It can be used as:

  • Primary treatment, where doctors solely use radiation therapy to target and kill the cancer cells
  • Neoadjuvant therapy is given prior to surgery with the aim of reducing the size of the tumor and ensuring hassle-free removal.
  • Adjuvant therapy is given after surgery to kill the cancerous cells that could not be removed surgically.
  • Palliative care alleviates the symptoms and side effects of cancer and improves the quality of the patient’s life. 

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