How cancer is treated
There are three main components to cancer treatment, which are used alone or in combination, depending on the tumor size, type and location.
Surgery removes many kinds of tumors.
Chemotherapy medications, taken orally or intravenously, travel through the body to kill cancer cells.
Radiation therapy uses targeted radiation beams delivered from outside the body to the tumor site to kill cancer cells. For almost 60% of cancer patients, treatment includes radiation therapy.
What radiation therapy does?
Radiation is pure energy delivered in beams. It works by damaging the DNA of cancer cells so they can no longer reproduce. Because cancer is characterized by rapid reproduction, this stops cancer from growing and spreading.
A radiation oncologist is a physician who is trained to use radiation for cancer treatment. The radiation oncologist determines the correct amount, or dose of radiation, and the right method for administering it to achieve the best results. A medical physicist helps calculate the dosage to make sure your tumor gets the proper amount of radiation. Using state-of-the-art computers, they develop a variety of treatment plans that most effectively destroy the tumor while sparing normal tissue. The treatment team uses imaging tests — CT scans, PET scans and MRIs — to plan where to aim the radiation.
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For more information or appointments, please call 202-877-DOCS (3627).
Where to go from here?Previous Topic: Guide to Radiation Treatment
Inside Radiation Technologies: Trilogy: A Stereotactic Radiosurgery Guide for Patients
Inside Radiation Technologies: Linear Accelerator
Inside Radiation Technologies: PET/CT
Next Topic: Cancers We Treat
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