This is the second most common form of treatment. Radioactive x-rays or gamma rays can penetrate the cell wall and damage the nucleus of the cancer cells and prevents further multiplication of the cells. About half of all cancer patients receive radiotherapy either as the first line of treatment or in combination with other treatment.
Some cancers are radiosensitive and can be cured completely by radiotherapy. Radiation can be given before surgery to reduce the size of the tumour, or after surgical removal of a tumour to destroy a small number of cancer cells that could not be surgically removed. There is, however, a limit to the amount of radiation that can be administered since radiation can also produce “radiation sickness”, where some healthy cells are also destroyed along with cancer cells. This is being curtailed by more efficient techniques Brachytherapy or interstitial radiation therapy, which help concentrate radiation on the tumour itself, without affecting the surrounding tissue.
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