CHRISTCHURCH WOMEN'S HOSPITAL
Gynaecology Services - Radiation Treatment
What is Radiation Therapy?
Radiation therapy is the use of high energy beams to kill cancer cells. It is entirely painless, like having a chest x-ray. Radiation therapy can be given either outside the body (external radiation or from within (internal radiation) At Christchurch Women's Hospital we use internal radiation, where radioactive material is placed inside an application that is inserted vaginally.
Radiation therapy kills cancer cells by preventing them from reproducing. Normal cells in the treated area will also be affected but, unlike cancer cells, they are usually able to repair themselves quickly.
About half of all people with cancer need radiation treatment at some point in their illness. For some types of cancer this is the best treatment. It may also be used in combination with surgery or chemotherapy.
The three main goals of Radiation Therapy are:
What is Cancer?
Cancer is a disease of the body's cells. Normally, the body's cells divide in an orderly way, allowing your body to grow and heal after an injury.
Occasionally cells divide abnormally and may form a lump called a tumour. Tumours can be benign (not a cancer) or malignant (a cancer).
Benign tumours do not spread to other parts of the body and may require no treatment.
A malignant tumour is made up of cancer cells. These cells can spread beyond the area where the primary cancer first develops. If not treated, they may invade and destroy surrounding tissues.
Sometimes cells break away from the original (primary) cancer and spread to other organs. When these cells reach a new site they may continue to grow and form another tumour. This is called a secondary cancer or metastasis. For example, if breast cancer spreads to the bones, it is called a bone secondary. It is not bone cancer, which is a separate disease
No two cancers behave exactly alike, even if they are in similar parts of the body.
Cancers can develop in any part of the body. No two cancers behave exactly alike, even if they are in similar parts of the body. Some grow faster than others, or are easier to treat.
The sort of treatment you are given for cancer depends on a number of facts: the type of cancer, where it began, and whether it has spread. Your doctor will also take into account individual factors such as your age and your general health.
Cancers are treated by surgery, chemotherapy (drug treatment) or radiation therapy, either alone or in combination. Some cancers, such as breast cancer, may also be controlled by hormone (endocrine) therapies.
Radiation Therapy - A Guide For Patients And Their Families
Society New Zealand INC
For more information check out the Leading UK Cancer site at www.bacup.org