What is radiotherapy?
Radiotherapy is the use of high-energy rays, usually X-rays and electrons to treat diseases such as cancer.
The beams of radiation in radiotherapy are more powerful than ordinary X-rays. They aim to destroy the cancer cells.
Normal cells can also be damaged by radiotherapy, but they can usually repair themselves. Cancer cells can’t.
Radiotherapy can be given on its own or with surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy or monoclonal antibody therapy. It can be given before surgery to shrink the tumor or after surgery to treat any residual disease.
Radiotherapy can be given from outside the body (externally) or from inside (internally).
External radiotherapy is given from outside the body, usually using high-energy X-rays.
Internal radiotherapy is given from a radioactive material placed inside the body:
A solid radioactive material that is put close to, or inside, the tumour.
A liquid source of radioactive material that is injected into a vein or taken by mouth.
Radiotherapy in general is safe. Depending on the type of radiotherapy, you may need to take special precautions after treatment.
Radiotherapy may cause side effects that can last for a short or a long period.