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How radiation therapy affects cancer cells and its risks

 Radiation therapy is one of the main treatments for cancer treatment, as it uses focused beams of radiation to kill cancer cells. Let's find out how radiation therapy affects cancer treatment.


The most common type of radiation therapy is external radiation. This type includes a device that directs high-energy beams of radiation at cancer cells. The device also allows targeting radiation at specific locations. That's why doctors prefer the use of external radiation for almost all types of cancer.

How is radiotherapy done?

Radiation is an important tool in cancer treatment and is often used along with other treatments, such as chemotherapy or surgery to remove a tumor.

The main goals of radiotherapy are to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells. Although it may injure healthy cells, this damage is not permanent. Your normal, non-cancerous cells can recover from radiation.

To reduce the effect of radiation on the body, too, radiation targets only specific points on your body or only cancer cells.

Radiation therapy can be used during different stages of cancer treatment and for different results. Radiation can be used in the following cases:

  • To relieve symptoms in the advanced and late stages of cancer.
  • As a primary treatment for cancer.
  • In conjunction with other cancer treatments.
  • To shrink the tumor before surgery.
  • To kill any remaining cancer cells after surgery.

Radiation hazards

Fatigue and hair loss are common side effects of radiation. But radiation also affects skin cells. Skin changes can include:

  • skin dryness.
  • peeling of the skin;
  • Dermatitis.

Other side effects of radiation also depend on the area being treated, and may include:

  • diarrhea.
  • mouth ulcers;
  • Dry mouth.
  • nausea;
  • impotence;
  • Sore throat.
  • swelling of the body;
  • Difficulty swallowing.

Difficulty urinating, such as painful urination or urinary urgency.


But most of these side effects go away within two months after the radiation is completed. In some rare cases, side effects can persist or appear for six months or more after treatment ends. 

Late side effects can also include:

  • Oral problems.
  • Lymphedema or tissue swelling.
  • infertility;
  • Possible secondary cancer.

How do you prepare for radiotherapy?

The first step in radiotherapy is determining the appropriate form of treatment. Your doctor will also determine the dose amounts and frequency of radiation that are most appropriate for your type and stage of cancer. The doctor will also decide whether or not you will need other treatments with radiation

Preparation also includes a CT scan or X-ray to determine the extent and stage of cancer and where the radiation is focused.

How is radiotherapy performed?

He usually takes radiation sessions five days a week for 1 to 10 weeks. The total number of treatments depends on the size and type of cancer. Each session usually takes about 10 to 30 minutes. The doctor does not do radiation sessions on the remaining two days of the week, to help restore normal cells.

Radiation therapy involves the use of a linear accelerator machine that directs radiation to the right place. The machine may move around the table to direct the radiation at appropriate angles. The machine may also make a buzzing sound, which is perfectly normal.

Follow-up after treatment

During the weeks of treatment, your doctor will closely monitor your treatment schedule and dosing, and your general health. You'll also have several imaging exams and tests during radiation so your doctors can monitor how well you're responding to treatment.

And if you feel any pain, fatigue, or any side effects after your radiation session, don't hesitate to tell your doctor what you're feeling.