Radiation therapy uses targeted energy (e.g., X-rays, radioactive substances) to destroy cancer cells, shrink tumours, and/or alleviate certain cancer-related symptoms. It may be used:
- as a primary treatment to destroy cancer cells
- in combination with other treatments to stop the growth of cancer cells
- before another treatment to shrink a tumour
- after another treatment to stop the growth of any remaining cancer cells
- to relieve symptoms of advanced cancer e.g. to help control pain
Radiation therapy works by damaging cells. Normal cells are able to repair themselves, whereas cancer cells cannot. The time between daily treatments allows your healthy cells to repair much of the radiation effect, while cancer cells are not as likely to survive the changes.
Techniques used at the Kathleen Kilgour Centre allow doctors to optimally target the radiation dose to treat the cancer whilst protecting healthy cells.
Sometimes radiotherapy is the only treatment a patient needs, at other times, it forms one part of a patient’s multifaceted treatment regimen. For example, prostate and larynx cancer are often treated with radiotherapy alone, while breast cancer may be treated with surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
For more in depth information about how a Linear Accelerator works please view the following video