What It Does: Radiation therapy uses ionizing radiation produced by a Linear Accelerator or another radioactive source to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.
How It Works: The radiation passes through the body and delivers a specific dose (the quantity of radiation administered and absorbed) to the affected area while minimizing exposure to the skin and tissue it passes through.
Although the radiation affects both cancer and normal cells, it has a greater effect on the cancer cells, damaging their genetic material and making it impossible for these cells to continue to grow and divide. Treatment aimed at cure will give the highest possible dose of radiation to the cancer area (within safe limits) in order to kill all the cancer cells. Sometimes smaller doses are used, where the aim is to reduce the size of a tumor and/or relieve symptoms.
Radiation therapy is used to both cure disease and alleviate the symptoms of cancer. There also are several non-malignant conditions treated using radiation therapy.