Radiation therapy is a type of cancer treatment that delivers high doses of energy to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors. It can also ease cancer symptoms and help prevent the cancer from returning. Radiation therapy eliminates cancer cells by breaking them down so they can no longer grow and divide.
Once the cancer cells are beyond self-repair, which can take a few days to several weeks of treatment, they are naturally removed by the body. This process can continue for several weeks or months after completing radiation therapy. Radiation therapy is given both exclusively or in conjunction with other cancer treatments including chemotherapy and surgery.
There are several types of external radiation therapy. Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) involves the use of frequent imaging during a course of radiation to improve delivery precision and accuracy. 3D Conformal Radiation Therapy (3D CRT) is a technique used to shape the radiation beam to the shape of the tumor. Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) takes advantage of computer-based treatment planning and delivery to create shaped dose distributions which can conform to complex tumor shapes and still spare the nearby normal tissues.
Your radiation oncologist will partner with you, while adhering to documented national guidelines for cancer care, to ensure your treatment is specifically tailored to your diagnosis and tumor size and location.
Radiation therapy can also be delivered internally from a source implanted inside the body at the cancer site. Please visit our Brachytherapy page for detailed information about this specific type of treatment.