Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses beams of radiation to shrink cancer tumors and destroy cancer cells.
Doctors use radiation to treat many types of cancer, including head, neck, brain, and breast cancer
Radiation may not destroy all the cancer cells and may destroy some normal cells, which can cause some side effects
Doctors may treat your cancer with radiation and another type of cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy
Radiation therapy may raise your chances of getting other cancers in the future
Radiation therapy kills all kinds of cells in your body, not just cancer cells. The radiation has to be aimed very carefully so that it hits mainly the cancer and not healthy tissue.
Most radiation therapy uses a machine that sends a beam of radiation to the part of your body that has cancer. There are two kinds of radiation beams:
Proton beams can be aimed more precisely than gamma rays. Whatever kind of beam is used, most people get radiation therapy every day for 6 to 8 weeks.
Another way doctors avoid harming healthy tissue is to shoot the radiation beam at your cancer from different sides of your body and at different angles. That way, the beam always hits the cancer, but the same healthy tissue doesn't get hit each time.
Other types of radiation therapy include:
Radiation therapy can damage normal tissue and gives you a higher chance of developing other cancers in the future. The risk depends on your age and where in your body you get radiation therapy.