How Does Radiation Therapy Work?

Radiation in high doses destroys or slows the growth of cancer cells. As a result, radiation therapy is used to cure, stop or decrease the growth of cancer. Radiation can also be used to reduce some symptoms or shrink cancer tumors. Because cancer cells grow and divide more rapidly than normal calles around them, radiation therapy can successfully treat many kinds of cancer. Healthy cells are also affected by radiation. Electronic Brachytherapy (eBx®) uses a miniaturized X-ray tube to apply radiation directly to the tumor site, and therefore emits less radiation to healthy tissue and organs (see example).

Radiation therapy is often used with other cancer treatments. Here are some examples:


National Cancer Institute (Radiation Therapy for Cancer: Questions and Answers), accessed on October 9, 2009.

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