Radiation therapy or Radiotherapy is often abbreviated as RT, RTx, or XRT. Radiotherapy uses ionising radiation, generally as part of Cancer Treatment to control or kill malignant cells. Radiotherapy is usually delivered by a device called linear accelerator (linac).
Every day, everywhere, we are surrounded by radiation. The light waves we use to see, heat, radio waves, or microwaves we use to cook, are all forms of radiation. The sun, TV remote controls, even some minerals are all sources of radiation. Radiation is also a standard Cancer Treatment. In fact, more than half the people diagnosed with cancer get some type of Radiation therapy. They all use high-energy waves to kill cancer cells.
Doctors use radiation as a Cancer Treatment because it is good at shrinking and destroying tumours without causing much damage to healthy tissues. The high energy waves pass through the body to reach the cancer. Cancer cell divides faster than normal cell and does not obey the rules of the body. When the cancer cells are hit with high-energy radiation, they are damaged. If they do not die right away, they die the next time they try to divide. As the cancer cells continue to die, the tumour shrinks. Most normal cells do not die with radiation because they are not diving fast, and they are better able to repair themselves.
The decision of whether radiation can be used as a treatment for a patient depends on the:
- type of cancer
- location of the cancer
- whether or not cancer has spread
- the current health of the patient
- other treatments the patient is on or will be on
A radiation oncologist uses radiation to cure cancer or to relieve a cancer patient’s Pain or alleviate other symptoms due to the cancer.
Radiation treatment works because radiation stops the capacity of the cancer cells to replicate and eventually kills them, and the body eliminates these dead cells naturally. Radiation affects cancer cells by causing damage to their DNA to prevent the division and development of cancer cells. Radiation is the fastest way to destroy rapidly dividing cells. Cancer cells are more vulnerable to radiation as:
- they divide more rapidly than healthy cells
- they do not repair this damage as effectively as healthy cells
There are various ways in which a cancer patient can receive Radiation therapy. The most common form of Radiation therapy is external beam radiation. This form includes a machine that guides high-energy beams of radiation to hit cancer cells. The device allows radiation to be aimed at certain tumour sites. Doctors use external beam radiation for nearly all types of cancer.
As per the National Cancer Institute, approximately half of all cancer patients undergoes Radiation therapy. A growing number of patients have their cancers treated successfully using Radiation therapy.
New technology has incorporated the use of three-dimens