Radiotherapy, also called radiation therapy, kills cancer cells. It’s used in the early stages of cancer treatment or after it has started to spread. It can also be used to relieve pain and discomfort from cancer that has spread.
At GenesisCare our doctors and expert teams are leading specialists in using advanced radiotherapy for different cancers and our treatment centres are equipped with the latest radiotherapy technologies.
Recent breakthroughs have led to radiotherapy treatments that can significantly improve cancer outcomes by controlling tumours and reducing the need for surgery. At the same time, these techniques can limit side effects and shorten treatment times from weeks to just a few days for some tumour types.
What is radiotherapy?
Radiotherapy, also called radiation therapy, kills cancer cells. It’s used to cure cancer (called curative or radical radiotherapy) or it can be used palliatively to limit cancer growth and relieve pain and discomfort from cancer that has spread and can’t be cured. Radiotherapy can also be used to make other treatments more effective, such as before surgery or with chemotherapy, or reduce the risk of cancer coming back after surgery.
Skin changes and inflamation
Swelling and build up of fluids
Stress, anxiety and other coping issues are also common
There are many ways to have radiotherapy but they all work in a similar way. Carefully controlled high-energy X-rays are used to destroy or damage cancer cells. This stops them growing or spreading. Radiotherapy is usually delivered in daily intervals called ‘fractions’. This allows time between treatments for the healthy cells to repair and the cancer cells to die off.
Radiotherapy works by using precisely controlled beams of energy to destroy cancer cells, while avoiding nearby healthy tissue. The energy is in the form of radiation – usually X-rays generated by a machine called a linear accelerator (linac).
Radiotherapy damages the DNA in cancer cells, preventing them from dividing and growing and causing them to die off. This can stop tumours growing, reduce their size or relieve pain caused by tumours.
Radiotherapy uses high energy radiation to kill cancer cells. At GenesisCare, our state-of-the-art linear technologies use X-rays and gamma rays to precisely target and destroy tumours within the body and electrons for tumours one the skin.
Radiotherapy does not kill cancer cells right away – it can take a few days or weeks. Then they will continue to die for weeks or months after your treatment course has ended. You will have a follow-up with your doctor after your treatment to assess how well it has worked.
While newer radiotherapy techniques mean fewer side effects than earlier forms of radiotherapy, there are still side effects that you may experience, as with any treatment.
Common side effects include:
- Skin changes and inflammation
- Swelling and build up of fluids
- Hair loss
- Stress, anxiety and other coping issues are also common
Your care team at GenesisCare can help you manage side effects with medication if needed, advice about diet or your daily routine, and additional support such as wellbeing therapies and exercise medicine.
More than half of all people diagnosed with cancer will need radiotherapy as part of their treatment, and radiotherapy has been included in the treatment plan for 40% of cancers cured. Timely access to the latest equipment and techniques can help to improve outcomes.
Almost all private medical insurers will pay for cancer treatment from the time of diagnosis, including radiotherapy and follow-up appointments.
Private treatment at GenesisCare can give you access to these latest treatments, quickly.
Radiotherapy uses radiation beams directed at the tumour and is focused on one area of your body.
Chemotherapy is a medicine designed to destroy cancer cells and can be given in a number of ways, such as in tablet form or through a vein (intravenously).
The best form of treatment for you will depend on many factors like your type of cancer or the stage your cancer is at. Often, chemotherapy and radiotherapy can complement each other and be used together.