About Radiation Therapy
Radiation can be administered to patients in different ways. The most common type of radiation therapy is external-beam therapy, in which a machine directs high-energy rays to a tumor site. Treatment is not painful, and most patients do not lose their hair unless the head is treated.
|Radiation oncologist Perry Grigsby, MD, prepares for a brachytherapy procedure.
Another form of treatment is internal radiation therapy, or brachytherapy, which involves the temporary or permanent placement of small radioactive implants in or near cancerous tissue. Cancers treated with brachytherapy include prostate, breast, cervical and endometrial cancer.
Radiation oncologists determine the best type of treatment for each patient and provide a treatment plan that includes the time period for treatment, the dose of radiation to be given, the areas of the body that will be treated and the equipment to be used.
While some patients have no side effects from radiation therapy, those who do generally find they are not serious. Most symptoms disappear a few weeks after treatments are finished.
Sometimes radiation therapy is combined with other forms of treatment, such as chemotherapy. Before surgery, radiation may be used to shrink a tumor prior to its removal. After surgery, it can be used to keep any remaining cancer cells from growing.