Radiation therapy is a powerful treatment tool that can target and destroy cancer cells in a specific area of the body. More than half of cancer patients undergo radiation treatments for one of the following purposes:
People with incurable cancer may also have radiation therapy. “Palliative radiation” shrinks tumors that cause pain, breathing trouble or other problems
Radiation therapy may be the only treatment you need, or it may be combined with other treatments such as chemotherapy or cancer surgery.
Cancer-killing radiation is a form of energy that exists as waves or charged particles. These include X-rays, gamma rays, electron beams and protons. Radiation therapy is given in one of three ways:
The type of radiation therapy you’ll need depends on several factors. These include the size and location of your tumor, what organs are near the tumor and whether you also need other cancer treatments.
Like any medical treatment, radiation therapy poses potential risks. These include:
If your doctor recommends you have radiation therapy, it’s because he or she believes the benefits outweigh the risks. Your care team will carefully plan your treatments to ensure they are safe and effective.
If you have questions or concerns about radiation therapy, please talk to one of your Mercy caregivers.