What are the common types of radiation treatment for cancer?

External beam radiation uses a special machine outside the body to send beams of high-energy x-rays through the skin to target and kill cancer cells. Sometimes it is combined with low-dose chemotherapy. A course of external beam radiation treatment may be done five days per week for several weeks. Side effects may include nausea, diarrhea, cramping, loss of appetite, skin irritation, and fatigue.

Another radiation treatment called brachytherapy places small amounts of radioactive material inside your body. In a method of brachytherapy, intracavitary radiation, a container containing a radioactive substance is inserted into the vaginal cavity. Interstitial radiation temporarily implants radioactive material into and around the tumor site.

In general, brachytherapy is more targeted, affecting less healthy tissue than external beam radiation. It may use a higher radiation dosage so fewer treatments may be required. Side effects may include fatigue, vaginal irritation, abdominal cramping, and diarrhea.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.