Radiation therapy is a common method of cancer care. While it is commonly used, many people are still unsure of what it is and how it works. To help clear things up a bit, this article is going to take a look at some of the basic information regarding cancer radiation therapy.
What is cancer radiation therapy?
Cancer radiation therapy is the treatment of cancer and other problems using radiation. While there are some commonly used types of radiation in healthcare settings, like x-rays, radiation to treat cancer is used in much higher doses.
How does cancer radiation therapy work?
Radiation treatment is used to kill cancer cells. Cancer cells form when a something changes a normal, healthy cell into a cancer cell. Cancer cells can then grow and make more cancer cells, eventually forming a tumor. To keep the cancer cells from growing and spreading, special equipment is used to send high doses of radiation to the cancer cells. Depending on the patient’s condition, radiation may be the only treatment needed. Additionally, radiation may not always cure cancer. Sometimes, the goal of radiation is to slow the cancer’s growth. The doctors at the cancer center will determine the best method of using radiation therapy.
What’s the difference between radiation therapy and chemotherapy?
Cancer radiation therapy involves sending high doses of radiation through the skin to target the specific location where the tumor is located. During this process, the radiation damages the DNA of the cancer cells, which causes them to die. Minor side effects may include fatigue and skin irritation at the areas surrounding the tumor.
On the other hand, chemotherapy involves a patient taking drugs that are designed to kill cancer cells. At a chemotherapy facility, a patient may receive the drugs either intravenously or orally. This type of treatment targets cells within the body that are dividing rapidly. Unfortunately, there are some healthy cells that also divide rapidly. Because of this, some healthy cells are damaged by the chemotherapy, which is a reason for the side effects patients typically experience.
Fortunately, the number of cancer survivors is continuing to increase due to medical advances. In fact, it’s estimated that the number of people to survive cancer is going to increase to about 19 million by 2024. Cancer treatment can be complex, and it’s important for patients to trust their doctors with their treatment plans to ensure the best outcome.