The purpose for this treatment is to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors and that is exactly what radiation therapy does. You do not want the cancer cells to grow and divide, and radiation destroys them by targeting and damaging their genetic material.
There are different types of radiation and different ways to deliver the radiation. For example, certain types of radiation can penetrate more deeply into the body than can others, while other types of radiation are designed to treat only a small area.
“Whether the goal is to destroy the entire tumor or to shrink the tumor in order to relieve symptoms, as much healthy tissue as possible should be spared.”
Almost half of all cancer patients receive some type of radiation therapy. It may be administered alone or in conjunction with other cancer treatments like chemotherapy or surgery. In some cases you may receive more than one type of radiation.
Almost every type of solid tumor can be treated with radiation therapy. Whether it is cancer of the brain, breast, cervix, larynx, lung, pancreas, prostate, skin, spine, stomach, or uterus, or soft tissue sarcomas, radiation may be used in the treatment plan.
For some types of cancer, radiation may be given to areas that do not have evidence of cancer or to assist in reducing the pain associated with the cancer.
Radiation may be administered from an external machine or it may be placed inside the body in sealed or unsealed capsule form. In some instances external and internal radiation is used simultaneously or one after the other. Although most people who have radiation therapy receive it externally, the type decided upon is dependent upon your medical history, general health, the type of cancer, and its location, among other factors.