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Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy

  • Radiotherapy is a treatment to destroy cancer cells with radiation. A beam of radiation is targeted on the cancer, which shrinks it.
  • Your care may differ from what is described here as it will be designed to meet your individual needs. It’s important that you discuss your radiotherapy treatment with your doctor.
  • Radiotherapy can treat many different types of cancer. About four out of 10 people who have cancer will have radiotherapy as part of their treatment.
  • Radiotherapy uses high-energy radiation, such as X-rays and gamma rays. It works by destroying the DNA inside cancer cells. This prevents them from reproducing and therefore shrinks cancerous tumours. Healthy cells will also be affected but they are usually able to repair themselves.
  • There are two main types of radiotherapy treatment – external radiotherapy and internal radiotherapy.
  • Radiotherapy is used for the following reasons.
  • To destroy the tumour. Radiotherapy can be used on its own or combined with other treatments such as surgery or chemotherapy. If the aim is to cure your cancer with radiotherapy, this is known as radical radiotherapy.
  • To reduce the size of a tumour before surgery. This is called neoadjuvant treatment.
  • To make sure all the cancer cells are destroyed after surgery. This is called adjuvant treatment.
  • To slow down the progress of the cancer, relieve pain and other symptoms. This is called palliative treatment and is used for advanced cancer.
  • The number and duration of radiotherapy sessions you have will depend on the type of cancer you have and where it is in your body. You may have one or two treatments with radiotherapy. However, you usually have a course of treatment over days or weeks.

Department Chief

Dr. Sebastien Russell, PhDDr. Russell

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