What is Radiation Therapy?

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What is Radiation Therapy?

QuestionsCategory: cancerWhat is Radiation Therapy?
Rishivardhan asked 4 months ago
What is Radiation Therapy?

1 Answers
Dr. Bommu Venkateshwara Reddy Staff answered 4 months ago

Radiation therapy takes a powerful position in the multifaceted terrain of cancer treatment, employing precision to focus and eradicate cells related to cancer. This article discusses the basics of radiation therapy, from working mechanisms and types to applications and a critical role in cancer treatment.


Understanding Radiation Therapy:

Within the realm of medical interventions, radiation therapy, also known as radiotherapy, emerges as a formidable technique deploying substantial doses of ionizing radiation for cancer treatment. Its primary objective revolves around inducing damage to the DNA within cancer cells, thereby impeding their capacity to undergo division and proliferation.Radiation therapy aims at selectively targeting the area where it is needed, and by eradicating or shrinking tumors contributes to manage cancer symptoms as well with various types of cancers.


Types of Radiation Therapy:


External Beam Radiation:


Overview: This is the most popular form of radiation therapy, since it involves administration of high-energy rays from an outer machine right onto a cancerous site.
Procedure: Typical patients lie on a treatment table wherein the radiation machine, under very careful calculations will give off beams from different directions to intersect at the tumor.
Applications: External beam radiation is very popular for solid tumors, like breast, lung ,prostate and brain.


Internal Radiation (Brachytherapy):


Overview: This method involves placing radioactive material; directly inside or very near the tumor, emitting a targeted amount of radiation to radiate cancer cells.
Procedure: Radioactive sources usually in the form of seeds, wires or catheters are implanted into or near to tumors using minimally invasive procedures.
Applications: It is used most often in  treating breast prostate and cervical cases.


Systemic Radiation:


Overview: This intricate process involves the delivery of a radioactive substance, whether ingested orally or introduced intravenously, allowing for its intricate journey through the complex network of blood vessels, reaching diverse locations throughout the entire body where the elusive presence of cancer cells may be detected.

Procedure: Systemic radiation therapy encompasses the delivery of radioactive isotopes, exemplified by radioactive iodine.

Applications: Systemic radiation stands out for its high effectiveness in addressing particular varieties of thyroid cancers and managing the pain associated with metastatic conditions in the bones.


Mechanisms of Action:

Radiation therapy initiates its impact on cancer cells using diverse mechanisms, engaging in a multifaceted dance that includes:


Direct DNA Damage:

High-energy radiation directly cleaves the DNA strands within cancer cells, stopping their replication.


Indirect DNA Damage:

Radiation triggers the production of free radicals in cancer cells and leads to a direct attack on DNA resulting in damage that interferes with normal cell function.


Cellular Death:

The culmination of DNA damage sets in motion pathways leading to cellular death, hampering the proliferation of cancer cells.


Angiogenesis Inhibition:

Radiation therapy induces disruption in the nascent development of blood vessels (angiogenesis) within tumors, impeding their supply of nutrients.


Applications in Cancer Treatment:


Primary Treatment:

Radiation therapy is usually applied as the first-line treatment for local cancers that attempt to destroy or reduce tumors before and after operations.


Adjuvant Therapy:

Radiation therapy acts as an adjuvant in cases where the surgical removal of the tumor is not complete or unclear; to eliminate any remaining cancer cells.


Challenges and Considerations:

While radiation therapy has established effectiveness, it is not without its complications. Adverse reactions may differ depending on the site of treatment, and precaution should be taken to avoid harming surrounding healthy tissues. New developments in technology, namely IMRT and proton therapies, seek to minimize collateral damage.



As progressing research and mechanical headways proceed to refine and extend the uses of radiation treatment, it stays an encouraging sign for innumerable people in the challenging journey of cancer.

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