Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to treat tumors and other diseases of the body. Radiation works by damaging the DNA inside cells and makes them unable to divide and grow. Over time, the abnormal cells die and the tumor shrinks. Normal healthy cells can also be damaged by radiation, but are able to repair themselves more easily, as when your skin heals itself after sunburn (a mild form of radiation exposure).
The goal of radiotherapy is to maximize the dose to abnormal cells and minimize the exposure to normal cells. The benefits of radiation are not immediate but occur over time. Aggressive tumors, whose cells divide rapidly, typically respond quickly to radiation. Benign tumors, whose cells divide slowly, may take several months to a year to show an effect.
Radiation may be used alone or in combination with other treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy or immunotherapy. The type and amount of radiation that you receive is carefully calculated to your specific tumor.
For information about specific brain diseases, please visit our partner site Mayfield Clinic.