Difference between radiation and chemotherapy

There are differences between chemotherapy and radiation

difference between radiation and chemotherapy

Chemotherapy and radiation are two common, highly effective cancer treatment options. Learn more about treatment at UPMC Hillman Cancer.

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Share this on:. So, what exactly is the difference between chemo and radiation? Chemotherapy , or chemo, is a process in which drugs are used to treat cancer. The goal of chemotherapy is to stop the spread of cancer to other parts of the body. Chemo side effects vary depending on the type and amount of chemotherapy drug used and how the body reacts to it.

Chemotherapy is a form of cancer treatment where a patient is given drugs designed to kill cancer cells. Radiation, on the other hand, is a type of cancer treatment where high doses of radiation are delivered to cancerous tumors in the body. Various treatment options are available for patients suffering from cancer. In determining which treatment option is best for you, it is most important that you have an in-depth discussion with your doctor. By preparing ahead of time, you will have a more active role in guiding your cancer care experience and will be more informed about why you are undergoing each treatment and what you can expect.

If you're struggling to find what you need, call our Support line on 7 days a week, 8am-8pm. Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays, such as x-rays, to treat cancer. It destroys cancer cells in the area where it is given. Some normal cells in the area can also be damaged by radiotherapy. This can cause side effects. These normal cells are usually able to repair themselves, but cancer cells cannot.

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Skip to Content. Radiation therapy treats many types of cancer effectively. But like other treatments, it often causes side effects. These are different for each person. They depend on the type of cancer, its location, the radiation therapy dose, and your general health. High doses of radiation therapy are used to destroy cancer cells.



Radiation Therapy Basics

Radiation is one of the most common treatments for cancer. Other names for radiation treatment are radiation therapy, radiotherapy, irradiation, or x-ray therapy. Radiation therapy uses high-energy particles or waves, such as x-rays, gamma rays, electron beams, or protons, to destroy or damage cancer cells.

When you might have chemotherapy

Cancer can take on many forms and spread throughout the body, infiltrating healthy cells and causing an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells that often turn into tumors. Various cancer-treatment options are available to treat men and women diagnosed with this potentially deadly disease, but the ones most familiar to many people are radiation and chemotherapy. Working with their doctors, patients can explore their treatment options to determine which therapies may be most effective. Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment in which a patient is administered drugs that are designed to kill cancer cells. These drugs work by attacking the components that allow cells to divide, grow and spread.

Doctors use chemotherapy because it circulates throughout the body in the bloodstream. So it can treat cancer almost anywhere in the body. Chemotherapy is a systemic treatment. Surgery only removes the cancer from the area it is in the body. And radiotherapy only treats the area of the body it is aimed at.

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