Radiation can be classified into two categories and they include ionizing radiation and non-ionizing radiation. Ionizing radiation forms ions or electrically charged particles and the ion formation takes place by removing electrons from molecules and atoms. Radio waves, light waves and micro waves can be described as non-ionizing radiation and it does not have the same amount of energy like ionized radiation. Ionized radiation is being used for cancer radiation treatments and it can be divided into two types. The first category is photons and, X-rays and gamma rays can be included in this category. The second category is known as particle radiation and carbon ions, alpha particles, beta particles, electrons, protons and neutrons come under this category.
Photon cancer radiation treatment
High energy photon beam, coming from sources like cesium, cobalt or linear accelerator will be used to treat cancer and it will go through the affected tissues to treat the cancer cells. When the photon beams pass through the body to reach the affected areas, they may make negative impact on the healthy cells on their path.
Different types of particle radiation
1) Electron beams
These types of beams have low energy levels and they will not penetrate too much into the body. That is why doctors use this type of radiation to treat skin or tumors close to the surface of the body.
2) Proton beams
Protons can be described as positively charged parts of atoms and they are very good at killing cancer cells with minimal damage to the normal tissues. Highly specialized equipment is needed to perform this type of cancer radiation therapy.
3) Neutron beams
When other forms of cancer radiation do not make any impact, neutron beams will be used and they are being used to treat certain types of neck, prostate and head cancers and also for some inoperable tumors. They will cause more DNA damage in comparison with protons and the side effects can be more severe as well.
4) Carbon ion
Since carbon ion radiation uses a particle that is heavier than proton or neutron, this type of cancer radiation is also known as heavy ion radiation. This particle can be described as a part of the carbon atom and it consists of protons, neutrons and electrons. It will do maximum damage to the cancer cells and the effects on healthy tissues can be more severe as well.
5) Alpha and beta particles
Special radioactive substances will produce these types of particles and they will be swallowed, injected or put into the body of the patient.