Radiation destroys the ability of cells to grow and reproduce. Cancer cells are more sensitive to radiation than normal cells. If radiation is given just as the cancer cell is about to reproduce (to divide into multiple cells), the radiation will prevent the cell from dividing and it will die. Since cancer cells divide more rapidly than most normal cells, they are more susceptible to radiation.
External beam radiation therapy
External beam radiation therapy is the most common type of radiation treatment. At some distance from your body, a machine aims the high energy x-rays or electrons at the cancer.
Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) is an advanced radiotherapy that utilizes computer-controlled treatment machines to deliver precise radiation doses to a malignant tumor or specific areas within the tumor. It offers the ability to "sculpt" the edges of the treatment area enabling higher doses to the tumor while reducing the dose to the adjacent and more sensitive areas, which in turn decreases side effects.
Imaged-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) is also an advanced method of radiation treatment that monitors patient treatment via imaging technology. The process of frequent imaging aids in the direction of radiation therapy by utilizing the imaging coordinates of the actual radiation treatment plan. This allows the doctors to adjust the treatment plan based on any changes in the size or shape that occurs during treatment.
Internal radiation therapy
For internal radiation therapy, small amounts of radioactive material are placed inside your body or directly into the cancer. You will be hospitalized for a short period of time while the implants are in your body. But if a remote afterloader, which inserts the implant, is used, the treatment lasts a few minutes and may be performed as an outpatient procedure.