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What is Radiotherapy?

Radiotherapy, also known as Radiation Oncology treatment, is the practice of using powerful x-rays to kill cancer cells. These x-rays can be focused accurately on any part of the human body.

The high-energy radiation used during radiotherapy permanently damages cancer cells, stopping them from reproducing causing them to die. The key is to deliver as high a dose into the cancer while minimising the dose to the tissues and organs around the cancer. This increases the chance of cure while minimising the amount of side effects that a patient might feel.

Radiotherapy kills cancer cells, shrinks tumours and relieves cancer symptoms.

Radiotherapy can be used independently or in combination with other treatments like surgery or chemotherapy.

Radiotherapy can be delivered at any stage during a patient’s cancer journey and it is given at a stage where it would be of most benefit to the patient.

Your Radiation Oncologist will recommend radiotherapy tailored to your condition and the kind of cancer that you have.

Radiotherapy can be given in 2 different ways:

  • from outside the body (external beam radiotherapy or EBRT) or
  • inside the body (brachytherapy).

External beam radiotherapy involves using a machine called a Linear Accelerator (Linac), which focuses high-energy radiation beams onto the area requiring treatment. External beam radiotherapy usually involves a series of daily treatments over a number of days or weeks.

Internal radiotherapy can involve placing a small piece of radioactive material temporarily inside the body near the cancerous cells or permanently implanting tiny devices such as seeds which will deliver a low dose of radiotherapy over a short period of time.

Up to 60% of cancer patients will require radiotherapy during the course of their cancer treatment.