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Radiotherapy cancer treatment

Radiotherapy cancer treatment works by destroying the cancer cells in the treated area.

Radiotherapy treatment uses high energy X-rays and similar rays (such as electrons) to treat disease. Many people with cancer will have radiotherapy as part of their treatment. This can be given either from outside the body using X-rays or from within the body.

What are the benefits of radiotherapy treatment?

Radiotherapy treatment works by destroying the cancer cells in the treated area. Although normal cells can also be damaged by the radiotherapy, they can usually repair themselves. Radiotherapy treatment can cure some cancers and can also reduce the chance of a cancer coming back after surgery. It may be used to reduce cancer symptoms.

About radiotherapy treatment

Radiotherapy is often given with the aim of destroying a tumour and curing the cancer. Radiotherapy may be used on its own or may be given before or after surgery or chemotherapy. Radiotherapy and chemotherapy may be given at the same time. Sometimes, when it’s not possible to cure a cancer, radiotherapy may be given to relieve symptoms for example, to reduce pain.

Far less commonly, high doses of radiotherapy may be given to people who are having a stem cell transplant as part of their treatment. Radiation may be given to the whole body to destroy the cells of the bone marrow. Very high doses of chemotherapy are also given. Stem cells by a drip are then given into a vein, to replace the bone marrow that has been destroyed. For more information, and if you have any queries about the treatment, speak to your consultant.

Paying for your procedure

Radiotherapy treatment costs are covered by most medical insurance policies, but please check with your insurer first. If you are paying for your own treatment the cost of the procedure will be explained and confirmed in writing when you book the operation. Ask the hospital for a quote beforehand, and ensure that this includes the surgeon’s fee, the consultant oncologist’s fee and the hospital charge for your procedure.

For further information or to book a consultation or treatment, please get in touch with our cancer enquiries team: Call us on 0800 157 7747

Content reviewed: September 2014

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