Radiation Therapy, also called Radiotherapy, uses high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation is a local therapy, which means it only affects cancer cells in the treated area. Depending on the circumstances, radiation can be used alone or in combination with chemotherapy.
Radiation Therapy may be given in a limited or regional field (a small area) or maybe given more broadly to common areas. When used with chemotherapy, radiation fields are generally limited.
To prepare for radiation therapy, the skin is marked with tiny ink dots (called tattoos) so the exact same area will be treated every time. Before the initial treatment, the health care team will devote a substantial amount of time marking your body to make sure that the required areas receive radiation.
Normal tissues around the radiation field are shielded by lead, which blocks the path of stray radiation beams.
During radiation therapy, the patient lies on a table beneath a large machine that delivers the radiation. During treatment the patient must remain still. Usually physical props, such as pillows, blankets, etc are provided to help keep you remain in the required position.
Once the proper preparations have been made, it takes only a few minutes to deliver the prescribed dosage of radiation. The total dose of radiation is usually divided and administered over a period lasting from one to six weeks.