Radiotherapy is the use of precisely targeted x-rays to destroy cancer cells. Normal cells can recover from radiotherapy. The length of treatment varies depending on individual factors such as the location, type and stage of the cancer, and whether or not the radiotherapy is combined with other treatments such as chemotherapy or surgery. Radiotherapy can cure cancer in many sites of the body.
Undergoing external radiotherapy is similar to undergoing a regular x-ray examination. There is no need for anaesthesia (except for infants). Internal radiotherapy (also called c – from the Greek words meaning ‘treatment from a short distance’) is given from a localised implant. It is a painless treatment given in a number of doses.
Common side effects of radiotherapy include fatigue and skin problems such as itchiness and colour changes. It is important to remember that almost all side effects will disappear once treatment is completed. Later effects will need to be monitored along with your progress.