Radiation therapy often uses high-energy waves or particles, like protons, electron beams, gamma rays, or X-rays, to damage or destroy cancerous cells. Your cells often divide and grow to form new cells. However, cancerous cells divide and grow faster than many normal cells.

Although chemotherapy, as well as other treatments, which are taken by injection or mouth, expose the entire body to cancer-fighting drugs, radiation treatment is a local therapy. That means it only affects the part of your body that requires treatment.

How Radiotherapy Works

Radiation therapy uses radiation to kill cancerous cells in specific areas. It is a very effective therapy for most cancers, but some cancers respond much better to radiation. Similar to other treatments for cancer, radiotherapy might be used in various ways. These ways include the following:

  • Palliative radiotherapy – It doesn’t aim to treat cancer. Rather it is used to relieve pain and other symptoms related to cancer by stopping it from spreading.
  • Neo-adjuvant or adjuvant therapy – Used after, before, or along with other treatments, like chemotherapy and surgery, to make the therapy more effective.
  • Curative radiotherapy – Used to cure cancer or set it into remission, thus making it undetectable.

Why Patients with Cancer Get Radiotherapy

When radiotherapy is used for treatment, it can treat cancer, prevent it from reoccurring, or slow or stop its growth. When used to ease symptoms, experts at UEW Healthcare say that the therapy is called palliative. External beam radiation can shrink tumors to treat pain as well as other issues that the tumor causes, like bladder control, loss of bowel, and trouble breathing. Pain from cancer, which spreads to a patient’s bone, can be cured with radiopharmaceuticals.

Side Effects

Side effects often come from damage to healthy tissues and cells near a treatment area. Some patients experience few to no side effects, while others experience severe side effects.

Reactions to radiotherapy usually start during the third or second week or can last for a few weeks after the final therapy. Certain side effects can be long-term, so you might want to talk to your doctor about what to expect.


When an individual experiences probable or known exposure to a high dose of radiation from an attack or accident, a medical expert will take several steps to determine adsorbed radiation dose. That information is important to determine how serious the disease is likely to be, whether the patient can survive, and which treatments they can use. Key information to determine the absorbed dose includes:

  • Vomiting
  • Known exposure
  • Type of radiation
  • Dosimeter
  • Blood tests
  • Survey meter

Therapeutic Services

The services for radiation-related illnesses you are likely to get depends on the severity. Because significant exposure often results from nuclear or radiological emergencies, healthcare experts, as well as first responders, prioritize care depending on the severity of injuries and symptoms. But generally, some of the services you are likely to receive from a healthcare team are decontamination, surgical procedures, supportive care, thyroid cancer prevention, and psychotherapy.

Final Touches

Almost every patient who gets treatment for their cancer feels some kind of emotional trust. But it is normal to feel depressed, frustrated, helpless, alone, or angry. So whenever you feel any of these, talk to your nurse or doctor to advise you about relaxation exercises, which can help you feel better and unwind.