Please Note: If there is any chance that you are / or can become pregnant during radiation, you must advise your radiation oncologist and the treatment team. Radiation can be extremely harmful to your unborn child and appropriate measures must be taken, etc.
Radiation therapy, sometimes called radiotherapy or irradiation, is the use of various forms of radiation to safely and effectively treat cancer and other diseases. Radiation oncologists may use radiation therapy to try to cure cancer, to control the growth of the cancer or to relieve symptoms, such as pain.
How radiation therapy works:
Radiation therapy works by damaging the DNA within cancer cells and destroying the ability of the cancer cells to reproduce. When these damaged cancer cells die, the body naturally eliminates them. Normal cells are also affected by radiation, but they are able to repair themselves from the radiation in a way that cancer cells cannot. Sometimes radiation therapy is the only treatment a patient needs, and other times it is only one part of a patient’s treatment. For example, some patients may be treated with surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Goals of radiation therapy:
- Destroy tumours.
- Reduce the risk that the cancer will return after you have had surgery or chemotherapy by killing tiny cancer cells that may remain.
- Shrink tumours that are interfering with your quality of life. For example: tumours that are causing difficulty swallowing or are causing bleeding.
- Alleviate pain by reducing the size of your tumour.
It is important for you to discuss the goal of your treatment and the side effects of your treatment with your radiation oncologist.
Chemotherapy (sometimes called chemo) uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. Some chemotherapy drugs are given on their own. But more often, several chemotherapy drugs are given together. Chemotherapy may also be given together with other drug treatments, such as biological therapy.
Today, there are many different kinds of chemotherapy and combinations of chemotherapy drugs used to treat over 200 different types of cancer. The drugs you get for chemotherapy may be different from the drugs someone else gets. Even if you get the same drugs as someone else, your body may react to them differently. So the way you feel during treatment may be very different from how others feel.
How chemotherapy works:
Chemotherapy is the use of one or more anticancer (cytotoxic) drugs to damage cancer cells so they can’t grow and reproduce. Chemotherapy is most effective on cells that are actively growing and dividing. Because many cancer cells tend to grow and divide quickly, they are sensitive to the effects of chemotherapy.
Goals of Chemotherapy:
the primary goal of chemotherapy is to eliminate cancer cells and prevent recurrence. If it is not possible to eliminate the cancer, chemotherapy may be used to control the cancer by slowing its growth and/or to reduce symptoms caused by the cancer (called palliative therapy).