Many people with cancer will have radiotherapy as part of their treatment.

Key things to know about radiotherapy:

  • Radiotherapy uses high energy x-rays, gamma rays or electrons to kill cancer cells in a specific part of the body.
  • It may be used to cure cancer, control cancer (make it smaller and stop it from spreading), support other treatments such as surgery or chemotherapy, or relieve symptoms such as pain.
  • Radiotherapy only affects the cells and tissues within a specific area (unlike chemo, which affects the whole body).
  • Normal, healthy cells are also better able to resist the radiation, which is why your body may recover from the effects of radiotherapy faster.
  • Radiotherapy may be given from outside the body using x-rays (external radiotherapy) or from within the body (internal radiotherapy).
  • Radiotherapy is usually delivered at an outpatients department, once or twice a day for several weeks.
  • Each radiotherapy treatment is called a fraction. Giving the treatment in separate daily fractions means that less damage is done to normal cells and there will be fewer side effects.
  • The type of radiotherapy used depends on the type of cancer, where it is, its size, your general health, test results and other cancer treatment you have had.



Read more detailed information about radiotherapy.