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ELFY Edu-Pedia #2: Radiotherapy

R A D I O T H E R A P Y

Radiotherapy means the use of radiation, usually X-rays, to treat illness. X-rays were discovered in 1895 and since then radiation has been used in medicine for diagnosis and investigation (X-rays) and treatment (radiotherapy).

Doctors have a lot of experience with using radiotherapy in medicine. About 4 out of 10 people with cancer (40%) have radiotherapy as part of their treatment. It is given in various ways, including:

  • From outside the body as external radiotherapy, using X-rays from linear accelerator machines, electrons, and more rarely other particles such as protons
  • From within the body as internal radiotherapy, by drinking a liquid that is taken up by cancer cells or by putting radioactive material in, or close to, the tumour

Source: Cancer Research UK

Radiation therapy works by damaging the DNA in cells. When radiation damages the DNA of cancer cells, they can’t grow and divide any more. Over time, the cells die. This means radiation can be used to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.

No. You can continue to enjoy the same contact with family and friends without fear of exposing them to radiation.

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