Radiation therapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses ionizing radiation energy to kill cancer cells and shrink cancerous tumors. Radiation therapy serves to either destroy cancerous cells or damage these cells to impede the division and growth of the cancer. Undergoing radiation therapy will injure healthy and cells in addition to cancer cells, however, most normal cells are able to regain integrity post treatment to function normally again.
Radiation therapy can be used both to destroy cancer cells and/or impede their growth, and to treat symptoms of cancer such as bone and joint pain. This use of radiation therapy is referred to as therapeutic or palliative treatment.
Oftentimes, radiation therapy is used in conjunction with chemotherapy to fight cancer.