Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays to treat disease. Radiation means waves of energy, such as light or heat. The form of radiation used in cancer therapy is a high-energy type known as ionizing radiation. It can be given both externally and internally. External radiotherapy aims high-energy x-rays at the affected area using a large machine. It is usually given on an outpatient basis in a hospital or clinic with specialized equipment 5 days a week for a number of weeks. Patients are not radioactive during or after the treatment with external beam radiation therapy. Internal radiotherapy involves having radioactive material placed inside the body. For internal radiation therapy, the patient often stays in the hospital for a few days. The implant may be temporary or permanent. Once an implant is removed, there is no radioactivity in the body. Radiotherapy works by destroying cancer cells in the area that’s being treated. It breaks up the DNA of cancer cells in a way that disrupts their growth and division and can even kill them.Normal cells can also be damaged by radiotherapy, which may cause side effects.
Cancer cells cannot repair themselves after radiotherapy, but normal cells usually can. Radiotherapy can be given for different reasons. Doctors can give radiotherapy to try and destroy a tumour and cure the cancer. This is called curative treatment. It may be used with other treatments, such as surgery or chemotherapy. If it’s not possible to cure the cancer, doctors may give you radiotherapy to help relieve symptoms you have. This is called palliative treatment. Radiotherapy is sometimes combined with chemotherapy. This is called chemoradiation. Before radiation therapy, chemotherapy can help to reduce the size of a tumor, making the targeted radiation therapy treatment more effective. When it is applied after radiation therapy, it can help to prevent the return of tumors that have been removed.The type of radiotherapy you’re given will depend on the type of cancer you have and your individual situation. Radiographer works out to plan the radiotherapy of patient. It can take some time to recover from radiotherapy.
Like surgery, radiation therapy can be a local treatment; it affects cancer cells only in the treated area. If the area treated is broader, we say it is then a regional treatment. Rarely, the whole body is given radiation therapy for a systemic or total-body effect. With radiation therapy, the side effects depend on the treatment dose and the part of the body that is treated. Although the side effects of radiation therapy can be unpleasant, they can usually be treated or controlled. It also helps to know that, in most cases, they are not permanent. In addition to the main role of radiation therapy in helping to stop or cure a cancer, it can also be used to treat symptoms in cancers that have spread too widely or advanced so far that they cannot be fully cured.This is known as palliative radiation therapy, which can help to reduce tumor size and the pain caused by tumors. Quality of life may also be improved by radiation therapy for cancer patients.