Radiation therapy is an important and integral component of cancer treatment, most of which confers a survival benefit. It uses high-energy beams to kill cancer cells by damaging their DNA, causing them to stop dividing or die. When damaged cells die, the body breaks them down and removes them. Radiation therapy can be used to treat cancer that has returned (relapsed) or to treat symptoms caused by advanced cancer.
The use of radiation after relapse depends on many factors, such as the amount of radiation that has been used before and whether the cancer has returned to a part of the body that has already been treated with radiation. Some tumors don't respond as well to radiation, so radiation may not be used even if they recur. Radiation therapy occurs when radioactive material is placed in cancer or surrounding tissue. During external beam radiation therapy, the patient does not emit any radiation after treatment sessions.
It can also use monoclonal antibodies, which are proteins that are attracted to very specific markers outside cancer cells, to deliver radiation directly to tumors. The radiation therapy team decides what type of radiation and what dose you will receive based on the type and stage of the cancer, your general health, and treatment goals. Some radiation treatments (systemic radiation therapy) use radioactive substances that are given into a vein or by mouth. Ionizing radiation has enough energy to dislodge electrons from atoms and includes radiation used to treat cancer, radiation used in some types of medical imaging, radiation from natural radon gas, and radiation released by nuclear weapons and power plants.
Examples of non-ionizing radiation include radio waves, light, microwave and radar. It is not fully understood why certain people and tissues are susceptible to cancers caused by radiation. However, researchers concluded that the young man's original cancer and second cancer were probably related to his p53 mutation. Most types of radiation therapy don't reach all parts of the body, which means they aren't useful for treating cancer that has spread to many parts of the body. There are some steps you can take to manage your concerns if you are worried that you may have another type of cancer after radiation therapy. If you have cancer, your doctor may recommend radiation therapy as part of your treatment plan. It is important to understand how it works and how it can help you fight your cancer.