Radiation Therapy And Its Effects On Cancer

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Along with or in place of chemotherapy, patients may need to receive radiation treatments to successfully rid themselves of cancer. The National Cancer Institute explains that radiation therapy, also called radiotherapy, “uses high-energy radiation to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells.” The Institute also describes the different forms of radiation used, including gamma rays, x-rays, or other beams of charged particles (“Radiation”). Like chemotherapy, the goal of radiotherapy is to damage the DNA of cancerous cells, disabling their reproductive capabilities. Radiotherapy can be delivered either internally, called brachytherapy, or externally through a machine that emits the beams into the body. Also, the National Cancer Institute…show more content…
In an article in the journal Cancers, the benefits of proton therapy are discussed. A signature characteristic of proton beam therapy is that it does not penetrate through tumors in ways that other radiation forms due. This is due to its “Bragg Peak,” an area where the amount of energy deposited peaks (Berman). This area is designed to be where the tumor is, and this accurate targeting means that less radiation is exposed to the other areas behind and around the tumor. Berman goes on to discuss in the Cancers article the general reduction of cancerous cells in non-small cell lung cancer patients. However, there are also side effects associated with this treatment that can be modulated with evolving technologies that provide more precise targeting. “Pencil Beam Scanning” is a developing specialized type of proton beam therapy in which the dose is maintained to a very specific area, which in turn will assist in reducing additional exposure (Berman). As discussed, radiotherapy and chemotherapeutic agents both can negatively affect the body by causing damage to healthy cells, not just those of the cancer. This issue has led to the development of a new type of treatment, one that solely seeks out the cancer cells, kills them, and leaves the bodily cells intact for the most part. According to the National Cancer Institute, there are many different types of treatments that target the
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