Published: Aug. 26, 2011
Updated: Aug. 26, 2011
Radiation (high-energy rays) is used to kill cancer cells, usually following surgery. Radiation is also an option for those tumors that cannot be surgically removed. Radiation can be administered externally using a machine, or internally by implanting seeds, wires, or catheters that emit radiation directly near the cancer.
To treat some childhood cancers, radiation may be used in combination with chemotherapy.
Radiation may also be used to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life when cancer is in advanced stages.
Side effects of radiation can include fatigue or irritability, and more rarely, nausea, vomiting, or headaches.
Children treated with radiation therapy are at increased risk of developing other cancers. Sarcomas can develop in the area treated many years after radiation. Systemic cancers can include acute myeloid leukemia, and myelodysplastic syndrome.