Cancer Disease Information
How Does Radiation Therapy Work?
Radiation therapy works by damaging cells. Normal cells are able to repair themselves, whereas cancer cells cannot. New techniques also allow doctors to better target the radiation to protect healthy cells.
Sometimes radiation therapy is the only treatment a patient needs. At other times, it is only one part of a patient’s treatment. For example, prostate and larynx cancer are often treated with radiotherapy alone, while a woman with breast cancer may be treated with surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Sometimes, the overall goal is to slow down the cancer as much as possible. In other cases, the goal is to reduce the symptoms caused by growing tumors and to improve your quality of life. When radiation therapy is administered for this purpose, it is called palliative care or palliation. In this instance, radiation may be used to:
It is important for you to discuss the goal of your treatment with your radiation oncologist.
Radiation therapy is safely and effectively used to treat many different types of tumors, both cancerous and benign (noncancerous). Below are links to more specific information on some cancers commonly treated with radiation.