Radiation therapy is the use of penetrating beams of high-energy waves or streams of particles called radiation to treat disease. Radiation therapy destroys the ability of cancer cells to grow and divide.
Radiation does not cure esophageal or other types of cancer, but it does offer temporary relief of symptoms and in some cases shrinkage of the tumor. Radiation used in conjunction with chemotherapy , and sometimes followed by esophagectomy , may offer improved survival over any method used alone.
Type of Radiation Therapy Used for Esophageal Cancer
Both external and internally placed radiation sources are used to treat esophageal cancer. In external radiation therapy, rays are directed at the tumor from outside the body. Internal radiation therapy, also called brachytherapy, places the radiation source as close as possible to the cancer cells. Radioactive material, sealed in a thin wire, catheter, or tube, is placed directly into the affected tissue.