Radiation Therapy: Definition and Use

Radiation therapy (North America)/ Radiotherapy (Australia and United Kingdom) refer to the medical utilization of ionizing radiations during treatment of cancer. The radiations facilitate in controlling malignant cells. The technology could be utilized for adjuvant or curative cancer treatment. Moreover, the technology is also utilized in the form of palliative treatment (a cure is unlikely and treatment aims at symptomatic relief or local disease-control) or therapeutic treatment (therapy possesses survival benefits and could be curative).

The applications of radiotherapy during non-malignant conditions include treatment of pterygium, severe thyroid eye disease, pigmented villonodular synovitis, preventing heterotopic ossification and keloid scar growth. However, the usage of radiotherapy during such conditions is restricted due to the uncertainties associated with the risk of radiation-induced cancer.

Radiotherapy might be utilized as the major therapy during treatment of cancer. The technology could also be combined with hormone therapy, chemotherapy, surgery or a combination of all the three. Majority of the common cancers could be treated using radiotherapy. The exact treatment intent (adjuvant, therapeutic, palliative, and curative or neoadjuvant) would depend on the type, stage as well as location of tumor and the patients’ overall health.

Normally, radiation therapy is utilized for cancerous tumor. Moreover, the radiation fields could also incorporate the draining of lymph nodes when they are radiologically or clinically related to tumor or the risk related to sub-clinical malignant growth exists.

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