Q:

How does radiation treatment work?

A:

Quick Answer

Radiation treatment works by creating tiny cracks in the cells’ DNA, according to the American Cancer Society. Because of these gaps, cancer cells are unable to grow and divide, and the cells often die.

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Full Answer

Radiation therapy is used to cure cancer and other conditions, as explained by the Tulane Comprehensive Cancer Clinic. Radiation oncologists use it to treat cancer, control cancer growth or alleviate cancer symptoms. Radiation treatment can destroy tumors before they affect other parts of the body.

Radiation therapy delivers large doses of radiation to cancer cells using special equipment, according to the American Cancer Society. The body’s cells usually grow and divide to create new cells. However, cancer cells multiply more quickly than healthy cells. Radiation therapy works by hampering them from producing new cells at a rapid rate. Normal cells close to the cancer cells are sometimes affected, but most of them recover and return to their normal functioning.

Unlike chemotherapy, which subjects the entire body to cancer-fighting drugs, radiation therapy is typically a local treatment that targets a particular body part, as explained by the American Cancer Society. Radiation treatment aims to harm cancer cells and minimize damage to nearby healthy tissue. Some treatments deliver radioactive substances through the mouth or by injection into a vein. These treatments allow the radiation to go through the whole body, but the radioactive substance accumulates in the site of the tumor and doesn’t cause significant effects to other body parts.

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