What is Radiotherapy

Radiation therapy (also called Radiotherapy) is a cancer treatment that uses a high dose of radiation to destroy or damage cancer cells. Radiotherapy can help reduce the size of a tumor before surgery or it can kill remaining cancer cells in the early stages of the diseases. Radiotherapy can also help relieve pain as part of palliative care in the latter stages of cancer.

Why is Radiotherapy Given

  • To treat or cure cancer (curative treatment).
  • To ease cancer symptoms (palliative treatment)
  • To stop or slow the growth of cancer cells

How Radiotherapy works against cancer

With the help of the Radiotherapy machine, the radiation beam (like an X-Ray) is targeted on the cancerous cells that need to be destroyed. The number of radiation treatments a patient receives depends on the type and stage of cancer. This is because radiation therapy does not kill cells right away. It takes days or weeks before the DNA is damaged enough for the cancer cells to die.

Side effects of Radiation Therapy

SGMC has highly qualified staff and specially developed treatment protocols to reduce the possibility of radiation side effects. Side effects can come from damage to healthy cells and tissues near the treatment area. Some common side effects can be fatigue, skin problems, low blood counts, hair loss, etc. However, radiotherapists work closely with medical physicists and treating oncologists to ensure that long term effects such as damage to the body and a risk of another cancer, are prevented.

Taking care of yourself during Radiation Therapy

  • Be sure to get plenty of rest. Reduce your daily work or personal activities, and make it a priority to take breaks as often as you need them
  • Eat a balanced and healthy diet. Remember, you can get advice from SGMC’s nutritionist
  • Take care of the skin in the treatment area. Ask SGMC’s pharmacist for recommendations about special skin creams you can use.
  • Tell your cancer care team about all medicine and supplements you are taking. These drugs and health supplements could have an effect on your treatment, and it is best to ensure your clinical team is fully informed

5 Things you should know about Radiation Therapy

  • radiation therapy uses strong X-rays to kill cancer cells.
  • The whole treatment usually only takes 10 – 15 minutes.
  • The treatment does not hurt.
  • The treatment can cause side effects.
  • The patient will have to keep very still while the radiotherapy is happening.