Radiation Therapy is a painless, localised treatment of cancerous and some non-cancerous tumours with radiation. Radiation therapy machines produce high energy x-rays that are directed at an area identified by a doctor for treatment. The x-rays have a biological effect on cells within this area which stops them from reproducing.
Radiation Therapy may be used for curative cancer treatment or as palliative treatment (where cure is not possible and the aim is for local disease control or symptomatic relief) or as therapeutic treatment (where the therapy has survival benefit and it can be curative).
During treatment you don’t feel anything, but you may hear a quiet buzzing noise from the machine.
At Auckland Hospital, the Radiation Therapy Department is a team of over 60 professionals; doctors, radiation therapists, oncology nurses, medical physicists and allied health workers, working together to provide the best possible treatment and care. There are 7 treatment machines.
What is Cancer?
Everyone’s body is made up of millions of cells, which normally grow, divide and are renewed in a balanced or programmed way. Sometimes this process is disrupted and the cells grow in an uncontrolled way – a solid group of these cells is called a tumour. Another word commonly used for tumour is growth and it can mean the same thing.
A tumour/growth can be benign (grows but will not spread into different parts of the body) or malignant (spreads into different parts of the body as well as grows locally). Tumours spread by cells travelling through the lymphatic system (the body’s cleaning system) to lymph nodes (often known as glands) or through blood to other organs in the body. These cells can then multiply. If this happens the cancer is called metastatic.
Cancer isn't contagious, so you can go on being close to family and friends.