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Doctors may recommend radiation therapy instead of cervical cancer surgery for women who cannot have surgery for medical reasons. Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells, and this type of treatment only affects the cells in the area that is being treated.

An Overview of Cervical Cancer Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy, also known as radiotherapy, uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. This type of therapy only affects the cells in the area that is being treated. Doctors may recommend radiation for cervical cancer instead of surgery for women who cannot have surgery for medical reasons.
However, cancer that extends beyond the cervix will require radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Cancer that has spread to distant organs will only require radiation therapy.

Types of Radiation Therapy Used for Cervical Cancer

There are two different types of radiation therapy that can be used as cervical cancer treatment: external radiation and internal radiation. Some women require both types of radiation therapy.
External Radiation
External radiation comes from a large machine outside of the body. Patients who receive external radiation will need to go into the clinic or hospital every time they receive treatment, which will be five days a week for several weeks.
Internal Radiation
For internal radiation, thin tubes (called implants) containing a radioactive substance are left in the vagina for a few hours or up to three days. Patients will need to stay in the hospital during this time. In order to protect others from the radiation, patients may not be able to have visitors during this time.
Once the tubes are removed, no radioactivity will be left in the woman's body. However, internal radiation may be repeated two or more times over several weeks.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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