Radiation therapy uses high-energy particles or waves, such as x-rays, gamma rays, electron beams, or protons, to destroy or damage cancer cells and is focused on a localized area where the cancer is located.
Our cells naturally grow and divide to form new cells, but cancer cells grow and divide much faster. Radiation works to make small breaks in the DNA which help keep cancer cells from growing and dividing, causing them to die.
Nearby normal cells can also be affected by radiation, but most recover and go back to working the way they should.
Radiation is given by a radiation oncologist and may be used:
- Before surgery to shrink the tumor
- Along with chemo in to increase the response to treatment in cases of cervical cancer.
- To treat symptoms caused by advanced cancer or cancer that has returned.
Radiation for GYN cancers is usually given externally and / or internally:
- External beam radiation uses a machine that directs high energy rays from outside the body to the tumor. It is done as an outpatient visit and given over many weeks.
- Internal radiation is also known as brachytherapy. A radioactive source is put inside the body ( usually the vaginal canal) and then removed after several minutes. This is also done as an outpatient visit and given over many weeks.
For more information on Radiation Therapy: