Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment. It uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and stop them from spreading. About half of all cancer patients receive it. The radiation may be external, from special machines, or internal, from radioactive substances that a doctor places inside your body. The type of radiation therapy you receive depends on many factors, including
- The type of cancer
- The size of the cancer
- The cancer's location in the body
- How close the cancer is to normal tissues that are sensitive to radiation
- How far into the body the radiation needs to travel
- 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
Radiation therapy can damage normal cells as well as cancer cells. Treatment must be carefully planned to minimize side effects. Common side effects include skin changes and fatigue. Other side effects depend on the part of your body being treated.
Sometimes radiation is used with other treatments, like surgery or chemotherapy.
NIH: National Cancer Institute
- Radiation Therapy (American Cancer Society)
- Radiation Therapy and You: Support for People with Cancer (National Cancer Institute) Also in Spanish
- Radiation Therapy to Treat Cancer (National Cancer Institute)
- Understanding Radiation Therapy: A Guide for Patients and Families (American Cancer Society)
- Low Blood Cell Counts: Side Effect of Cancer Treatment (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
- Oral Complications of Chemotherapy and Head/Neck Radiation (PDQ) (National Cancer Institute) Also in Spanish
- Radiation Therapy Side Effects (American Cancer Society) Also in Spanish
- Brachytherapy (American College of Radiology, Radiological Society of North America) Also in Spanish
- Gamma Knife (American College of Radiology, Radiological Society of North America) Also in Spanish
- Proton Therapy (American College of Radiology, Radiological Society of North America)
- Radioimmunotherapy (American College of Radiology, Radiological Society of North America) Also in Spanish
- Stereotactic Radiosurgery and Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy (SBRT) (American College of Radiology, Radiological Society of North America)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Radiotherapy (National Institutes of Health)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Treating the primary in low burden metastatic prostate cancer: Where do...
- Article: Radiotherapy for glioblastoma in the elderly: A protocol for systematic review...
- Article: Dosimetric comparison among cyberknife, helical tomotherapy and VMAT for hypofractionated treatment...
- Radiation Therapy -- see more articles
- Radiation Therapy (Nemours Foundation)