Radiation therapy is the treatment of cancer using penetrating beams of high energy waves or streams of particles called radiation. At high doses (many times those used for x-ray exams), radiation is used to treat cancer and other illnesses.
The goal of radiation therapy is to kill the cancer cells with as little risk as possible to normal cells. Radiation in high doses kills cancer cells or keeps them from growing and dividing. Normal cells are also affected by radiation, but unlike cancer cells, most of the normal cells recover from the effects of radiation.
The radiation used for cancer treatment comes from machines or from radioactive substances. Radiation therapy equipment aims specific amounts of the radiation at tumors or areas of the body where there is disease. To protect the rest of the body, doctors carefully limit the doses of radiation and spread out the treatment over time. They also shield as much of the surrounding area of the body as possible, while they aim the radiation at the site of the cancer.
The Department of Radiation Oncology offers the option of using amifostine during radiation therapy. The use of this medication during radiation therapy for head and neck cancer has been shown to decrease the incidence of dry mouth after treatment.
The Department of Radiation Oncology at MedStar Washington Hospital Center uses the most advanced techniques and technology to maximize treatment of cancer while minimizing damage to normal tissue. These include treatment with intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and state-of-the-art machinery such as the Trilogy linear accelerator.
Learn more about cutting-edge treatment technologies:
- Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
Where to go from here?Previous Topic: Chemotherapy
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