Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy radiation from x-ray machines to kill cancer cells. It is called radiation, radiotherapy, x-ray therapy or irradiation.
Because your body can't stop or control the growth of the cancer cells by itself, your doctor may suggest radiation to kill the cancer cells. Radiation therapy works to kill cancer cells in a certain part of your body and is called a local treatment.
Because of the equipment required, radiation therapy can only be given in Halifax and Sydney.

See our Living Well with Cancer Series for detailed information about different aspects of radiation therapy.

Treatment length depends on:
• the type of cancer you have
• the kind of radiation treatment you're having
• how well your cancer responds
• how well you feel during radiation

Radiation can:
• stop cancer cells from growing and spreading
• control or slow down the growth and spread of cancer cells
• shrink the size of the cancer

Side effects
Because radiation can damage healthy cells near the cancer, there can be side effects such as:
• feeling very tired
losing hair in the part of your body being treated
• having skin rashes on the part of your body being treated

Most healthy cells will go back to normal after radiation and most side effects will go away soon after treatment ends. Keep in mind that side effects are not a sign of how well the radiation is working against your cancer.

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