Radiation therapy is one of the modalities of treating cancer. It involves exposure of high energy rays to the cancer thereby destroying it. The treatment has been under constant evolution over the period of time, starting from the Cobalt therapy to Linear accelerator to IMRT (Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy) and now to IGRT (Image Guided Radiation Therapy). With its evolution the side effects of the treatment through radiation as gone down considerably. In the past radiation used to affect the entire body but now radiation is given to the affected area only thereby reducing the damage to healthy cells and other healthy body parts. Around 50 to 60 percent of cancer patients are treated with radiation at some time during their disease. A cancer patient may be treated with radiation alone. Prostate cancer and larynx cancer are often treated in this manner. A radiation oncologist may use radiation generated by a machine outside a patient's body (external beam radiation therapy or proton therapy). Radiation also may be given with radioactive sources that are put inside the patient (brachytherapy). Your doctor should be able to discuss the risks and benefits of the treatment with you and help you make the best decision for you and your unique situation.
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