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Radiation for Uterine Cancer

Radiation for uterine cancer treatment may be used before surgery to shrink the tumor or after surgery to destroy any cancer cells that remain in the area. The doctor may also suggest radiation therapy for the small number of women with uterine cancer who cannot have surgery. Common side effects of using radiation for uterine cancer treatment include dry, reddened skin in the treated area, hair loss in the treated area, and loss of appetite.

Radiation for Uterine Cancer: An Overview

In radiation therapy for uterine cancer treatment, high-energy rays are used to kill cancer cells.
 
Most cases of uterine cancer occur in the lining (endometrium) of the uterus. This article uses the term "uterine cancer" to refer to this type of cancer, also known as endometrial cancer. This article does not discuss a rare type of uterine cancer that can occur in the muscles or other tissues that support the uterus. Click Uterine Sarcoma for more information on this topic.
 
Like surgery, radiation therapy is a local therapy, which means that it only affects cancer cells in the treated area. Some women with stage I, II, or III uterine cancer may require treatment with both radiation therapy and surgery. Radiation therapy may be used before surgery to shrink the tumor or after surgery to destroy any cancer cells that remain in the area. The doctor may also suggest radiation treatments for the small number of women who cannot have surgery.
 

Types of Radiation Used for Uterine Cancer Treatment

There are two types of radiation therapy used for uterine cancer treatment: external radiation and internal radiation.
 
External Radiation
When external radiation is used for uterine cancer treatment, a large machine outside the body is used to aim radiation at the tumor area. External radiation is usually an outpatient procedure that is given in a hospital or clinic 5 days a week for several weeks. This schedule helps protect healthy cells and tissue by spreading out the total dose of radiation. External radiation therapy does not involve the placement of radioactive materials into the body.
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