M. D. Anderson Cancer Center Radiation Treatment Center at Presbyterian Kaseman Hospital
Radiation, also known as radiotherapy, uses large doses of high-energy beams or particles to destroy cancer cells in a specifically targeted area. Radiation damages the internal chemical structure of cancer cells, which keeps them from multiplying. Radiotherapy is most commonly used on localized solid tumors, and on cancers that affect the bloodstream, such as leukemia and lymphoma.
More than half of cancer patients will undergo radiation therapy. For some types of cancer, patients will only under radiation treatment. Radiation is often used in combination with other treatments. When used before or during other procedures, radiation shrinks the tumor to make surgery or chemotherapy more effective. Used afterward, it destroys any cancer cells that might remain.
There are two basic types of radiotherapy:
External Beam Radiation uses specialized machines to administer a high dose of radiation directly to the cancer site and to a small amount of healthy tissue at the margins of the tumor. Different machines are used for tumors of various types or in different locations in the body.
Internal Radiation, also known as brachytherapy, involves radioactive material that is implanted in the body at the cancer site. Radiation implants are small tubes, seeds or capsules filled with different types of radioactive material and sealed. Sometimes, implants are used at a tumor site after its removal, to kill any lingering cancer cells.
Side effects are usually limited to the radiation site, although many patients will experience overall fatigue. Normal cells that may be affected by radiotherapy will usually repair themselves. Patients receiving radiotherapy in the abdomen may have nausea, while radiation to the pelvis may trigger diarrhea. Skin in the target area may become irritated, change color or become overly sensitive. These effects usually fade after several weeks. Hair loss at the radiation site can sometimes be permanent. Always make your cancer specialist aware of any side effects, no matter how minor they seem.
The Cancer Center at Presbyterian
8300 Constitution Ave. NE
Albuquerque, NM 87110
8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Monday-Friday
4100 High Resort Blvd. SE
Rio Rancho, NM 87124
8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Tuesday-Friday