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What Is Radiation Therapy?

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Published on March 15, 2016

Professor Denis-Claude Roy, from the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital & Montreal University in Canada, gives an overview of radiation therapy.

Recorded at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) 2015 Annual Meeting in Orlando, FL.

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Transcript | What is radiation therapy?

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Radiation therapy… user [?] is a whole field of medicine that uses radioactive compound so actually waves that are able to penetrate the body and get to the cancer cell and kill the cancer cell without harming the body in itself.  So it really affects cancer cells, particularly specifically and this is done usually for treatment of local disease.

So if people have, for example, leukaemia localised to one side they can receive radiation therapy.  Radiation therapy is also administered in the context of stem cell transplantation and there we can give radiation therapy to all of the body to eliminate the leukaemia cells that are present in various parts of the body.

And, in the context of transplant we associate radiation therapy with chemotherapy as these are two means to really kill the cancer cells so the idea is to find strategies to counteract the mechanisms developed by leukaemia to evade our treatments.  So by using two modalities we attack them in very different approaches and are therefore able to get particularly good results in several types of leukaemia’s.