What Types Of Cancer Are Treated By Radiotherapy?

5th January 2017  

Radiotherapy and chemotherapy are the two main treatments for cancer in hospitals all over the world. Treatment with both can be gruelling, but for now they are both the best and most effective ways of recovering from cancer successfully. Our focus today will be on radiotherapy and which types of cancer it treats.

Radiotherapy kills off cancer cells or simply slows down their progress

Radiation is a powerful way of killing off cancer cells, or simply slowing down its progress and growth. It can treat cancer by stopping it, slowing it down or prevent it from returning altogether.

Radiation can shrink tumours in order to treat the pain and other problems which are caused by a cancerous tumour. Problems can range from loss of bladder or bowel control or difficulty with breathing.

radiotherapy treatment

It takes time to see the benefits

Radiation doesn’t kill cancer cells immediately – it takes time for it to start working, normally, it takes days, weeks even for it to have an impact on cancer cells. However, following a course of radiation therapy, cancer cells will continue to die, sometimes for weeks or months following end of treatment.

External or internal – radiation therapy targets cancerous tumours
External beam radiation

There are two main types of radiation therapy, these are external beam radiation and internal. External beam will come from a machine and doesn’t touch the body at all, but sends beams of radiation therapy to the tumour from many different directions to shrink it. This type of therapy treats tumours all over the body.

Internal radiation

Internal radiation is exactly what it says: internal. It is a source of radiation which goes inside your body in the form of a liquid or solid. Internal radiation also goes by the name of brachytherapy, treatment can include capsules, ribbons or seeds, placed inside you near the cancer. You’ll receive liquid radiation from an IV line, where it will travel throughout your body killing cancer cells it finds on the way.

radiotherapy treatment for cancer

Radiotherapy – a successful treatment for cancer

As we’ve seen radiotherapy is used in combination with chemotherapy to treat tumours, sometimes it can be used alone. It can also be used as palliative care for incurable cancers to help with the pain, and extend life for a limited period. It can also be used to shrink a tumour enough so it can be removed from the body quickly and easily via surgery. Radiotherapy is also often used to treat non-cancerous, benign tumours and is also used for treating other conditions such as certain blood disorders or thyroid disease.

Side effects from radiotherapy

The side effects from radiotherapy are often milder than with chemotherapy although there can be some hair loss, tiredness and sore skin. There are some long-term effects however, if you receive radiotherapy to the lower half of your body, it can cause infertility.

Radiotherapy is a very effective form of treatment for cancerous tumours with 4 out of 10 cancers including it as part of the treatment plan. Often with radiotherapy, there is some time before benefits are seen, although this will also depend on the type of cancer you have and how aggressive it is, which other treatment you’re having alongside it, and how advanced your tumour is.

Radiotherapy – an effective form of treatment

Depending on the severity of your cancer, radiotherapy is a successful way of treating cancerous tumours in your body either externally or internally. Whether or not you have radiotherapy will largely depend on what your oncologist believes is the right type of treatment for your cancer.

If your cancer isn’t curable, you may be given radiotherapy as a form of palliative care, as a way of shrinking it, helping with the pain and offering relief for a period of time. It can also be used to shrink it so you can go on to have surgery. It can also help treat illnesses other than cancer, such as thyroid disease or some blood disorders. In the main, it is an effective form of treatment for cancerous tumours in different areas of the body.