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Cancer Treatment with Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is a very important tool in the fight against cancer and is used in the treatment of as many as 50% of all cancer patients. More than half a million cancer patients receive radiation therapy each year, either alone or in conjunction with surgery, chemotherapy or other forms of cancer therapy. Other terms for radiation therapy include radiotherapy, x-ray therapy, electron beam therapy, cobalt therapy, or irradiation.

Radiation therapy is useful in cases where surgical removal of the cancer is not possible or when surgery might debilitate the patient (for example, when tumors that are located close to the spinal cord). Together with image guided treatment planning, radiation therapy is a powerful tool in the treatment of cancer, particularly when the cancer is detected at an early stage.

It is estimated that 50% of all cancer patients undergo radiation as part of their treatment. Radiation therapy can be used following surgery to destroy any cancer cells that were not removed by surgery, or prior to surgery to "shrink" a previously inoperable tumor to a manageable size to enable surgical excision. Radiation can also be used to destroy any remaining cancer cells after surgery. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may also be used together to effectively treat the cancer. Radiation can also be used to help relieve symptoms of advanced cancer (such as bleeding or pain), even if a cure is not possible.

Click on a topic below to begin your session on radiation therapy: