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I read about cancer treatment where the patient would be given radiation to kill cancer cells. How do they make sure that it affects mostly the cancer cells? Moreover how do they manage it so that it kills cancer cells but does not causes more cancer by radiation poisoning.

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https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/types/radiation-therapy/radiation-fact-sheet The quick answer is the healthy cells do get radiations (you may read more info on the above link), but they came up with a clever idea on how to minimalize the radiation absorbed by healthy cells but at the same time give a lot of radiation to the cancer cells. Look at this video from 1:44. https://youtu.be/_moypMx05Fw Simply enough, they used computer to analyze 3D picture of your body, then "shoots" the cancer cells from different angles so that the healthy cells get minimum damage. This doesn't relate to the question but maybe you want to know that cancer cells are weaker than normal cells because they are too busy growing and less organized that normal cells which makes them harder to recover from the radiation. That makes things a lot easier. This is link to the proof. http://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/radiation/how_works

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    It is for this reason that some tumours can't be treated with radiation. It's not that they wouldn't respond, it's that there isn't an angle that lets them aim at the tumour without getting some vital organ damaged as well. – Kate Gregory Mar 25 '18 at 19:27
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    It doesn't really address why malignant cells are more susceptible to radiation vs normal cells. If your link contains that information you should abstract that out as links are subject to link rot. – Graham Chiu Mar 25 '18 at 20:42
  • @Kate Gregory although it is true that some conditions of tumors that can't be targetted without getting vital organs damaged, there are a lot of cases that it works. OP asks how it works and it is shown in the answer. – Kenneth Kho Mar 26 '18 at 2:27
  • @Graham Chiu whether cancer cells are more susceptible to radiation or not, the logic of the above procedure remains true. The fact that cancer cells so busy on dividing and less organized that makes them harder to recover only ease the process and we take that for granted. OP asked how radiotherapy target the cancer cells and its not in the scope of the question to write about how weak cancer cells are. – Kenneth Kho Mar 26 '18 at 2:31
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    @KennethKho your wall of text adds very little to explain what is happening. There is no mechanism being explained. – Graham Chiu Mar 27 '18 at 1:39
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It doesn't. They focus the radiation on mostly cancer, from different angles. The radiation only kills cells in the process of splitting ; because the cancer cells are growing faster , they split more often. So the radiation kills a higher proportion of cancer cells than normal cells. The plan is when all the cancer cells have been killed there will not be extensive damage to normal cells and they can recover, sort of. In my case 98% of the beard hair follicles cells were killed so I will never have a beard. A downside is the normal cells that survive now develop fibrosis in reaction to the radiation.

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    Answers without references are liable to be deleted. – Graham Chiu Mar 27 '18 at 1:37

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