Ra­dio­ther­apy

Daily Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - LIFE -

What is it?

Ra­dio­ther­apy is a treat­ment where X-rays are used to kill can­cer cells by stop­ping them from grow­ing or spread­ing to the rest of the body.

Ra­dio­ther­apy can be used to try to cure a can­cer com­pletely, to make other treat­ments more ef­fec­tive or to re­lieve symp­toms.

Types of ra­dio­ther­apy Ra­dio­ther­apy can be given in sev­eral ways.

Your doc­tors will rec­om­mend the best type for you.

given by a ma­chine – where a ma­chine is used to care­fully aim beams of ra­di­a­tion at the can­cer

im­plants – where small pieces of ra­dioac­tive metal are (usu­ally tem­po­rar­ily) placed in­side your body near the can­cer

in­jec­tions, cap­sules or drinks – where a ra­dioac­tive liq­uid is swal­lowed or in­jected into your blood­stream.

Treat­ment is given in hospi­tal. You can nor­mally go home soon af­ter ex­ter­nal ra­dio­ther­apy but you may need to stay in hospi­tal for a few days if you have im­plants or ra­dioiso­tope ther­apy. Most peo­ple have sev­eral treat­ment ses­sions, which are typ­i­cally spread over the course of a few weeks.

What are the side ef­fects?

As well as killing can­cer cells, ra­dio­ther­apy can dam­age healthy cells in the area be­ing treated.

This can cause side ef­fects, such as sore, red skin, feel­ing tired most of the time, hair loss in the area be­ing treated, feel­ing sick, los­ing your ap­petite, a sore mouth and suf­fer­ing di­ar­rhoea.

Many of these side ef­fects can be treated or pre­vented and most will pass af­ter treat­ment stops.

The ra­di­a­tion from these im­plants or in­jec­tions can stay in your body for a few days, so you may need to stay in hospi­tal and avoid close con­tact with other peo­ple for a short while as a pre­cau­tion.

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