What is Radiation Therapy?

Radiation therapy is a common cancer treatment that uses high-energy X-rays or particles to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. At Revere Health, we provide external beam radiation therapy, which means the radiation source is external (from outside the body). The radiation is produced by a linear accelerator, a large machine that aims radiation at the cancer. The linear accelerator moves around you without touching you.

It is important to note the following regarding radiation treatments:

  • It does not hurt
  • It doesn’t make you radioactive
  • It cannot be seen, felt, or smelled.

Radiation therapy can be used:

  • Alone, as the only treatment you need
  • Before surgery to shrink the tumor
  • After surgery to destroy any remaining cancer cells
  • With chemotherapy, which makes the cancer cells more sensitive to radiation treatment
  • After chemotherapy to kill remaining cancer cells
  • To control symptoms such as pain or bleeding

Radiation therapy kills cancer cells by either damaging their DNA directly or by creating charged particles (called free radicals) within the cells that can, in turn, damage the DNA. When the DNA of cancer cells is damaged beyond repair, the cells stop dividing or die outright. When the damaged cells die, they are broken down and eliminated by the body’s natural processes.