What Is the Difference Between Radiation and Chemo?


Quick Answer

Chemotherapy refers to cancer treatment using intravenous or oral drugs that target cells that divide rapidly in the body, whereas radiation treatment delivers high doses of radiation to cancer cells and isolated parts of the body, according to the Southeast Radiation Oncology Group. These treatments may also destroy healthy, fast-dividing cells in the human body such as hair follicles, digestive tract tissue and blood cells.

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What Is the Difference Between Radiation and Chemo?
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Full Answer

The American Cancer Society explains that chemotherapy is a medicine or drug taken internally through a pill, injection, oral liquid, intravenous fluid or even a skin cream. The most common delivery method is through an intravenous catheter into a vein. External beam radiation therapy is similar to getting an x-ray at a walk-in clinic, and treatment takes up to 10 weeks. Internal radiation therapy uses small implants to treat a cancerous area with strong doses of radiation, according to the ACS.

Side effects of both treatments include fatigue and flu-like symptoms. KidsHealth explains the severity and type of side effects associated with chemotherapy depend on the type of drug used, the dosage and the overall health of the patient. Radiation's side effects tend to be more limited to the area treated, yet the severity of these side effects also depends on dosage, location on the body and type of radiation administered.

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