Radiation oncology is the use of ionising radiation to treat cancer. Radiotherapy (Radiation Therapy) uses high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells in the affected area by damaging their DNA.
The radiation used for cancer treatment may come from a machine outside the body, or it may come from radioactive material placed in the body near tumour cells or injected into the bloodstream.
A patient may receive radiation therapy alone as a treatment or in combination with surgery or drug treatments. This will depend upon on the type of cancer being treated.
50% - 60% of people with cancer will benefit from radiotherapy at some point in the course of their cancer illness. The length of each course of radiotherapy depends on the size and type of cancer and where it is in the body.
Radiation therapy can damage normal cells as well as cancer cells. Therefore, treatment must be carefully planned to minimize side effects.