Breaking News
September 19, 2018 - Janssen Submits New Drug Application to U.S. FDA Seeking Approval of Erdafitinib for the Treatment of Metastatic Urothelial Cancer
September 19, 2018 - Suicide: A public health crisis
September 19, 2018 - Stanford team will participate in NIH-funded study of tobacco policies | News Center
September 19, 2018 - Women with high levels of anti-Müllerian hormone more likely to develop breast cancer
September 19, 2018 - Effects of prematurity found to be more severe for the brains of males than females
September 19, 2018 - NIH funds CWRU to investigate new imaging approach for diagnosing peripheral arterial disease
September 19, 2018 - NUS researchers develop new device for quick and accurate screening of diseases
September 19, 2018 - Leading nutritionist explains about different types of iron in oral supplements
September 19, 2018 - New Crest Gum & Enamel Repair toothpaste may boost enamel repair and reverse gingivitis
September 19, 2018 - Analysis does not find any safety concerns of bivalent HPV vaccine
September 19, 2018 - Many Older Adults Transition to Long-Term Benzodiazepine Use
September 19, 2018 - Caregiving – resources – older adults: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia
September 19, 2018 - Research shows that cystic fibrosis impacts growth in the womb
September 19, 2018 - Study shows how head, neck positioning affects concussion risk | News Center
September 19, 2018 - Antioxidant in green tea helps sneak therapeutic RNAs into cells
September 19, 2018 - Excess pregnancy weight gain affects cardiometabolic risk in offspring
September 19, 2018 - Penn researchers find common thread linking almost all TNR expansion diseases
September 19, 2018 - Ipsen receives approval from Health Canada for CABOMETYX tablets for treating renal cell carcinoma
September 19, 2018 - Researchers use CRISPR screen to reveal new targets in squamous cell carcinomas
September 19, 2018 - UGR to coordinate the European H2020 project focused on Smart Personalized Nutrition
September 19, 2018 - Mumps Spread Quickly at Texas Cheerleading Meets: Study
September 19, 2018 - Addressing child stunting in Pakistan is critical
September 19, 2018 - Innovative system makes hospitals, clinics accessible for people with visual impairments
September 19, 2018 - CXCL14 protein is secreted by brown adipose tissue and has beneficial effects in metabolic diseases
September 19, 2018 - Air pollution increases risk of dementia
September 19, 2018 - Inequality issues persist even under new U.S. kidney transplant allocation system
September 19, 2018 - New study reveals mechanisms that lead to cognitive decline in Type 2 diabetes
September 19, 2018 - FDA launches new comprehensive effort to educate kids about dangers of e-cigarettes
September 19, 2018 - Study reveals mechanism underlying plants’ ability to signal defense
September 19, 2018 - Researchers harness Zika virus vaccine under development to target glioblastoma
September 19, 2018 - Novel deep learning drug discovery platform gets £1 million innovation boost
September 19, 2018 - Sensor array may detect de novo Parkinson’s disease in breath
September 19, 2018 - A roadmap for the future of electronic health records
September 19, 2018 - Surprising research showing peptide adaptability may pave way to develop immunotherapies
September 19, 2018 - Amyloid β protein makes comeback as therapeutic target for Alzheimer’s disease
September 19, 2018 - Alcon expands its global support of eye care professionals through Alcon Experience Academy
September 19, 2018 - Study gives new insights into how cells leverage GPCRs to control inflammation
September 19, 2018 - Automatic relevance detection in ophthalmic surgery videos
September 19, 2018 - UNIST to accelerate discovery, development of new medicines for incurable diseases
September 19, 2018 - Novel clinical trial to examine cannabis as potential treatment for essential tremor
September 19, 2018 - Salsa dancers have lower injury rates than Spanish, aerobic or Zumba dancers
September 19, 2018 - AmpliPhi receives positive feedback from FDA for its AB-PA01 product targeting P.aeruginosa infections
September 19, 2018 - Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Novel, Oral, Selective TYK2 Inhibitor Delivered Significant Skin Clearance in Patients with Moderate to Severe Plaque Psoriasis in Phase 2 Trial
September 19, 2018 - Can work stress contribute to Parkinson’s disease risk?
September 19, 2018 - Global Climate Action Summit: A focus on kids and climate
September 19, 2018 - Vitamin D may reduce breast cancer mortality in women with lower BMI
September 19, 2018 - Targeted Lung Denervation procedure significantly reduces COPD problems
September 19, 2018 - FDA-approved ‘safe’ daily BPA exposure may contribute to insulin resistance
September 19, 2018 - Research finds physical connection between the brain’s fluid reservoirs and meningeal lymphatics
September 19, 2018 - UCalgary study could help physicians make better treatment decisions for stroke
September 19, 2018 - Biomedical review finds failure rates in some surgical mesh treatments to be unacceptably high
September 19, 2018 - Researchers develop more accurate measure of body fat
September 19, 2018 - Doctors and students rally to support gun violence research, education
September 19, 2018 - LEO Pharma and MorphoSys announce expansion of strategic alliance to develop peptide-derived drugs
September 19, 2018 - Seniors in pain hop aboard the canna-bus
September 19, 2018 - New compound could prevent malaria parasites from maturing inside mosquito
September 19, 2018 - Scientists find alterations in blood flow in response to body position change
September 19, 2018 - UNC Health Care extends free access to virtual care service in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence
September 19, 2018 - Opioid Refills Rare After Rhinoplasty
September 19, 2018 - Corn, obesity, and navigating healthy eating choices as a parent
September 19, 2018 - Journal editor aims to prompt thoughtful review of ethics in precision health
September 19, 2018 - Researchers identify key step in how plant cells respond to pathogens
September 18, 2018 - Researchers analyze how exposure to silver nanoparticles affects zebrafish
September 18, 2018 - Study shows air pollution may be bad for the fetus
September 18, 2018 - Coffee May Have Another Perk for Kidney Patients
September 18, 2018 - Tongue-in-cheek Nobels honor nutritional analysis of cannibalism, roller-coaster kidney stones treatment
September 18, 2018 - Progress, priorities, challenges are focus of State of Stanford Medicine | News Center
September 18, 2018 - Established Alzheimer’s Risk Gene Has a New Role
September 18, 2018 - Hospitalization after antibiotic initiation found to be higher for people with Alzheimer’s disease
September 18, 2018 - Many children with special healthcare needs do not have access to ‘PCMH-concordant’ care
September 18, 2018 - Investigational nasal influenza vaccine tested in children and teens
September 18, 2018 - Lymphatic vessels surrounding the brain play crucial role in multiple sclerosis, research suggests
September 18, 2018 - New fiber laser-based ultrasound sensor may have potential applications in medical diagnostics
September 18, 2018 - Protect your heart and health during ‘dog days’ of summer
September 18, 2018 - Faculty receive awards for promise in biomedical research, clinical care | News Center
September 18, 2018 - Digital games for CVD-related self-management improve exercise capacity and energy expenditure
September 18, 2018 - Aluminum inclusions help enhance adsorption of chemo drugs onto active carbon delivery capsule
September 18, 2018 - Adding PET scans to CT imaging can change treatment for women with cervical cancer
September 18, 2018 - UCSF awarded $20 million grant to study impacts of new, emerging tobacco products
September 18, 2018 - Human brains may be wired to prefer lying on the couch, suggests research
Radiation Therapy for Cancer – National Cancer Institute

Radiation Therapy for Cancer – National Cancer Institute

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

Radiation therapy (also called radiotherapy) is a cancer treatment that uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. At low doses, radiation is used in x-rays to see inside your body, as with x-rays of your teeth or broken bones.

How Radiation Therapy Works Against Cancer

At high doses, radiation therapy kills cancer cells or slows their growth by damaging their DNA. Cancer cells whose DNA is damaged beyond repair stop dividing or die. When the damaged cells die, they are broken down and removed by the body.

Radiation therapy does not kill cancer cells right away. It takes days or weeks of treatment before DNA is damaged enough for cancer cells to die. Then, cancer cells keep dying for weeks or months after radiation therapy ends.

Types of Radiation Therapy

There are two main types of radiation therapy, external beam and internal.

The type of radiation therapy that you may have depends on many factors, including:

  • The type of cancer
  • The size of the tumor
  • The tumor’s location in the body
  • How close the tumor is to normal tissues that are sensitive to radiation
  • Your general health and medical history
  • Whether you will have other types of cancer treatment
  • Other factors, such as your age and other medical conditions

External Beam Radiation Therapy

External beam radiation therapy comes from a machine that aims radiation at your cancer. The machine is large and may be noisy. It does not touch you, but can move around you, sending radiation to a part of your body from many directions.

External beam radiation therapy is a local treatment, which means it treats a specific part of your body. For example, if you have cancer in your lung, you will have radiation only to your chest, not to your whole body.

Learn more about external beam radiation therapy.

Internal Radiation Therapy

Internal radiation therapy is a treatment in which a source of radiation is put inside your body. The radiation source can be solid or liquid.

Learn more about internal radiation therapy.

Why People with Cancer Receive Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is used to treat cancer and ease cancer symptoms.

When used to treat cancer, radiation therapy can cure cancer, prevent it from returning, or stop or slow its growth.

When treatments are used to ease symptoms, they are known as palliative treatments. External beam radiation may shrink tumors to treat pain and other problems caused by the tumor, such as trouble breathing or loss of bowel and bladder control. Pain from cancer that has spread to the bone can be treated with systemic radiation therapy drugs called radiopharmaceuticals.

Types of Cancer that Are Treated with Radiation Therapy

External beam radiation therapy is used to treat many types of cancer.

Internal radiation therapy is often used to treat cancers of the head and neck, breast, cervix, prostate, eye, and certain types of thyroid cancer.

How Radiation Is Used with Other Cancer Treatments

For some people, radiation may be the only treatment you need. But, most often, you will have radiation therapy with other cancer treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. Radiation therapy may be given before, during, or after these other treatments to improve the chances that treatment will work. The timing of when radiation therapy is given depends on the type of cancer being treated and whether the goal of radiation therapy is to treat the cancer or ease symptoms.

When radiation is combined with surgery, it can be given:

  • Before surgery, to shrink the size of the cancer so it can be removed by surgery and be less likely to return.
  • During surgery, so that it goes straight to the cancer without passing through the skin. Radiation therapy used this way is called intraoperative radiation. With this technique, doctors can more easily protect nearby normal tissues from radiation.
  • After surgery to kill any cancer cells that remain.

Lifetime Dose Limits

There is a limit to the amount of radiation an area of your body can safely receive over the course of your lifetime. Depending on how much radiation an area has already been treated with, you may not be able to have radiation therapy to that area a second time. But, if one area of the body has already received the safe lifetime dose of radiation, another area might still be treated if the distance between the two areas is large enough.

Radiation Therapy Can Cause Side Effects

Radiation not only kills or slows the growth of cancer cells, it can also affect nearby healthy cells. Damage to healthy cells can cause side effects.

Learn more about the side effects of radiation therapy.

How Much Radiation Therapy Costs

Radiation therapy can be expensive. It uses complex machines and involves the services of many health care providers. The exact cost of your radiation therapy depends on the cost of health care where you live, what type of radiation therapy you get, and how many treatments you need.

Talk with your health insurance company about what services it will pay for. Most insurance plans pay for radiation therapy. To learn more, talk with the business office at the clinic or hospital where you go for treatment. If you need financial assistance, there are organizations that may be able to help. To find such organizations, go to the National Cancer Institute database, Organizations that Offer Support Services and search for “financial assistance.” Or call toll-free 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) to ask for information on organizations that may help.

Special Diet Needs

Radiation can cause side effects that make it hard to eat, such as nausea, mouth sores, and throat problems called esophagitis. Since your body uses a lot of energy to heal during radiation therapy, it is important that you eat enough calories and protein to maintain your weight during treatment.

If you are having trouble eating and maintaining your weight, talk to your doctor or nurse. You might also find it helpful to speak with a dietitian. For more information about coping with eating problems see the booklet Eating Hints or read more about side effects.

Working During Radiation Therapy

Some people are able to work full-time during radiation therapy. Others can work only part-time or not at all. How much you are able to work depends on how you feel. Ask your doctor or nurse what you may expect from the treatment you will have.

You are likely to feel well enough to work when you first start your radiation treatments. As time goes on, do not be surprised if you are more tired, have less energy, or feel weak. Once you have finished treatment, it may take just a few weeks for you to feel better—or it could take months.

You may get to a point during your radiation therapy when you feel too sick to work. Talk with your employer to find out if you can go on medical leave. Check that your health insurance will pay for treatment while you are on medical leave.

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles