Published: Aug. 22, 2011
Updated: Aug. 22, 2011
Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells or to stop their growth. The radiation may be administered externally by a machine, or internally by implanting seeds, wires, or catheters that emit the rays.
Radiation therapy is a local treatment that only affects the cells in the tumor area. Advanced radiation planning methods are often used to minimize the risk of injury to normal tissues.
Internal radiation therapy involves placing radioactive materials into holders that are inserted into the uterus or cervix.
Internal radiation therapy may be an inpatient or outpatient procedure. In order to protect others from the radiation, patients may have limited contact with visitors during the treatment. Once the containers are removed, no radiation remains in the body.
During external radiation therapy, radiation comes from a machine outside the body. Though this treatment is outpatient, patients will come to the clinic for treatment multiple times a week for several weeks.
Radiation therapy can cause side effects, but these usually go away as soon as treatment is complete. These side effects can include:
Learn more about treatments for gynecologic cancer: