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Radiation Therapy - The use of high-energy radiation (e.g., x-rays) and/or radioactive substances to shrink or kill cancerous cells. Radiation damages the DNA in cells, thereby stopping the cells from reproducing.
There are two main types of radiation therapy. External radiation therapy uses external beams of radiation from a machine (linear accelerator) outside the body to destroy cancerous cells inside the body. Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) (a form of 3D conformal radiation) is a type of external radiation therapy. Internal (or implant) radiation therapy places radioactive material directly into or near the tumor to kill cancerous cells. High-Dose Rate (HDR) brachytherapy is a type of internal radiation therapy.
Radiation therapy may be given as a stand-alone cancer treatment, but it is often used in combination with surgery and/or chemotherapy. New advancements in radiation therapy continue to evolve, allowing cancerous cells to be targeted with even higher levels of accuracy, while helping to spare nearby healthy tissue. Also known as radiotherapy and irradiation.
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