Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are both treatments for cancer – the uncontrolled growth and spread of cells to surrounding tissues. Chemotherapy, or “chemo,” uses special drugs to shrink or kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy, or “radiation,” kills these cells with high-energy beams such as X-rays or protons. Radiotherapy may be used in the early stages of cancer or after it has started to spread. It can be used to: try to cure the cancer completely (curative radiotherapy) make other treatments more effective – for example, it can be combined with chemotherapy or used before surgery (neo-adjuvant radiotherapy). At high doses, radiation therapy kills cancer cells or slows their growth by damaging their DNA. Cancer cells whose DNA is damaged beyond repair stop dividing or die. When the damaged cells die, they are broken down and removed by the body. Radiation therapy does not kill cancer cells right away.

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