Radiation therapy is one of the most frequently used treatments for cancer. More than half of people with cancer receive this type of treatment.
- The principle: It consists of exposing the cancer cells to rays. This exposure causes a transformation of the cells which then lose their ability to multiply. Only the area where the tumor is located is exposed to the rays in order to avoid as far as possible that healthy cells are also affected.
- The goal: To eliminate as many cancer cells as possible. Like chemotherapy, radiotherapy can be performed before or after surgery. In the first case, the goal is to decrease the size of the tumor in order to increase the chances of removing all cancer cells during the operation. In the second case, the goal is to destroy the remaining cancer cells and thus to reduce the risk of recurrences.
- In practice: Most often radiotherapy is external. The rays are emitted by a device while you are lying, without moving, on a table. The sessions last a few minutes and are repeated over several days. Beforehand, the exposed area will have been carefully delineated to specifically target the tumor.
There is another form of internal radiotherapy. In this case, the rays are emitted by an implant placed (during surgery) near the tumor.
The type and amount of radiation prescribed by your doctor and the number of sessions are determined according to the type of cancer you have, the size of the tumor and its location in your body.