Radiation Therapy for Oral Cancer
Radiation treatment also is called radiotherapy.1 It uses radiation to kill cancer cells.2 It is a local treatment, which means that it only affects cells in the area being treated.3 Radiation also may be used to relieve symptoms caused by tumors,2 such as difficulty chewing or swallowing.1 The radiation you get and how often you get it depends on the size and location of the tumor.2
To get this treatment, you see a radiation oncologist. This doctor works with a radiation therapy team to set your treatment plan. The plan describes what kind of radiation you’ll have and how long the treatment will last.2
There are two main types of radiation: external and internal. In external radiation, the radiation comes as a beam from a machine.3 Internal radiation also is called brachytherapy.2 In this type of radiation, radioactive materials that are housed in seeds, needles, or tubes are placed in your body near the tumor.3
1 “Lip and Oral Cavity Cancer Treatment: General Information about Lip and Oral Cavity Cancer.” National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, june 16, 2010. www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/lip-and-oral-cavity/patient. Accessed 2010.
2 “Radiation Therapy for Cancer: Questions and Answers.” National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, June 30, 2010. www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Therapy/radiation. Accessed 2010.
3 “What You Need to Know About Oral Cancer: Treatment.” National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, September 8, 2004. www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/oral/page8#b. Accessed 2010.