Radiation Damages DNA in Cancer Cells Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to damage the DNA in cancer cells, which stops them from growing and dividing. Radiation can also harm healthy cells, especially lung cells, but fortunately for pleural mesothelioma patients, technological advances are making it easier for doctors to safely administer radiation near vital organs.
Like chemotherapy, radiation therapy can help kill cancer cells left over in the body after surgery. In particular, radiation therapy is often used after surgery to prevent “cancer seeding.” Precise doses of radiation can kill any cancer cells left behind by surgical tools, ensuring they do not form new tumors. As a palliative treatment for late-stage patients, radiation can shrink tumors and significantly relieve pain. Radiation therapy is a painless outpatient procedure, but it can have some side effects, including fatigue, nausea and skin irritation near the application area (similar to sunburn). Depending on the dosage and frequency of the radiation, long-term radiation damage may also occur.