Radiation therapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses beams of high-energy particles to treat cancer and other noncancerous conditions. Typically, radiation therapy uses X-rays to treat cancer, but proton therapy can be used as well. It is important to understand the different types of cancer treatments available so that you may make informed decisions if you receive a cancer diagnosis. This article will inform you about what radiation therapy is, how it’s used, and what to expect when going through treatment.

  1. Radiation therapy slows cancer cell growth.

During treatment, radiation is delivered to the cancer site to damage the cancer cells and slow their growth. When those damaged cells die, they are broken down and removed by the body. Some forms of radiation therapy can affect healthy tissue surrounding the tumor, but with proton therapy, the high-dose of radiation is delivered precisely and accurately to the tumor, with limited effect to surrounding healthy tissue.

  1. Radiation therapy may be a part of palliative therapy.

Even in advanced stages of cancer, radiation therapy can help treat cancer patients. The goal of palliative therapy is to control the symptoms of cancer, giving patients a better quality of life.

  1. Radiation therapy can be combined with other cancer treatments

Radiation therapy can be used by itself as a form of cancer treatment, but may also be used as a combination treatment plan with chemotherapy and surgery. Radiation therapy can make chemotherapy more effective and can kill any cancer cells that were not removed from surgery.

  1. Ask your doctor what side effects you can expect.

Radiation therapy can cause early and late side effects. When starting treatment, make sure to ask your doctor what side effects you can expect and what you can do to prepare for them.

  1. Radiation therapy can be external, internal, or systemic.

Radiation therapy can be delivered in different ways.

  • Proton or photon beam radiation is a form of external therapy delivered from a machine to the body. Proton therapy is one of the most precise, advanced radiation treatment options available. In traditional photon radiation, the x-ray beams travel through the tumor destroying both cancerous and healthy tissue along the way. Proton therapy provides a more efficient solution by utilizing charged particles (protons) to penetrate the tissue and deposit nearly all of their energy directly at the tumor site, thereby reducing damage to surrounding areas.
  • Brachytherapy is a type of internal radiation that allows a higher dose of radiation to be delivered to the tumor, the area near it, or the site following tumor removal. This approach helps protect surrounding healthy tissue.
  • Systemic radiation therapy delivers radiation throughout the body in a pill form or with an injection.
  1. Even with receiving radiation therapy, many individuals are able to continue with their normal, day-to-day routines.
  1. Protect your health while undergoing radiation therapy.

When undergoing radiation therapy, it is important to protect your health and take precautions.

  • Get plenty of rest during treatment
  • Create a meal plan that promotes a healthy diet
  • Report side effects to your healthcare team
  • Take care of your skin during treatment because it can be sensitive to radiation therapy
  1. Understand the goal of your radiation therapy.

Radiation therapy can affect individuals in different ways and understanding that goal will help you to be proactive in your treatment. It is important to know the different side effects that may happen and how the treatment will affect you.

If you want more information on the different radiation therapy options available at Ackerman Cancer Center, please visit Ackerman Cancer Center Treatment Options or call (904) 880-5522.