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Understanding Radiation Therapy



Radiation therapy uses high energy x-rays and/or electrons to destroy or slow the growth of cancer cells. The purpose of radiation therapy is to focus the radiation on cancerous cells and minimize damage to normal tissues.  About half of all people with cancer are treated with radiation therapy. It is used for many types of cancer, including (but not limited to) cancers of the head and neck, skin, uterus, cervix, prostate, Hodgkin's disease, leukemia, breast and lung. For some cancer patients, radiation therapy is the only treatment needed. Other patients receive radiation therapy along with chemotherapy and/or surgery.

Radiation therapy can help cure many different kinds of cancer. It can also be used as a palliative treatment to relieve cancer symptoms such as pain, pressure or bleeding. Quality of life can be improved with radiation therapy in most cases.