Radiation therapy uses radiation to kill or damage cancerous (abnormal) cells and stop them from growing and multiplying.
It is one of the best-established, most effective and well tolerated therapies for treating almost all cancers, extending lives, and reducing suffering.
What is cancer?
If you have cancer, cells in your body have begun to grow in an abnormal way and multiply. These cancerous cells can also spread to nearby organs and tissues.
There are many different types of cancer – and every type has a different cause. However, all cancers start from cells growing abnormally.
How common is cancer?
More than one in three people will develop cancer in their lifetime.
Over half of these people will need radiation therapy at least once – either as part of their overall management or as their only treatment.
Why does radiation work?
Cancerous cells are more susceptible to radiation than healthy, non-cancerous cells. This is because of their abnormal and unstable nature.
Healthy, non-cancerous cells are much better at recovering from exposure to radiation. They will normally repair themselves – however, cancerous cells cannot recover.
How does radiation therapy work?
Radiation therapy requires a sophisticated planning process. This involves your radiation oncologists choosing the best radiation dose to treat the cancer, while minimising the potential for damage to any nearby healthy organs and tissues.
Radiation therapy is usually delivered in daily intervals called ‘fractions’. This allows time between treatments for the healthy cells to repair and the cancer cells to die off.