Radiotherapy Can Cure Cancer?

Radiotherapy Can Cure Cancer

When used to treat cancer, radiotherapy can cure cancer, and prevent it from returning or stopping, or slowing down. When treatments are used to relieve symptoms, they are known as palliative care. The radiation of the external beam can shrink tumors to treat pain and other problems caused by tumors, such as breathing or loss of intestine and bladder control. Cancer pain that has spread to bones can be treated with systemic radiotherapy medications called radiopharmaceuticals.

Types of cancer treated with radiotherapy

External beam radiotherapy is used to treat various types of cancer. Brachytherapy is more commonly used to treat cancers of the head and neck, chest, uterine neck, prostate, and eye. Systemic radiotherapy called radioactive iodine, or I-131 is more commonly used to treat certain types of thyroid cancer.

Another type of systemic radiotherapy called directed radionuclide therapy, is used to treat some patients who have advanced prostate cancer or gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (GEP-NET). This type of treatment can also be called molecular radiotherapy.

How radiation is used with other cancer treatments?

For some people, radiation can be the only treatment you need. But, more frequently, it will undergo radiotherapy with other cancer treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. Radiotherapy can be administered before, during, or after these other treatments to increase the probability that the treatment is successful. The moment when radiotherapy is provided depends on the type of cancer that it is and if the objective of radiotherapy is to treat cancer or relieve symptoms.

When radiation is combined with surgery, it can be administered:

  1. Before surgery, to shrink cancer size so that it can be removed surgically and less likely to return.
  2. During surgery, it goes directly to cancer without going through the skin. 

The radiotherapy used in this way is called intraoperative radiation.  With this technique, doctors can more easily protect the close normal tissue from radiation. After surgery to kill the remaining cancer cells.

Life dose limit

There is a limit to the amount of radiation that an area of ​​your body can safely receive during your life. Depending on the amount of radiation with which the area has been treated, that area may not have radiotherapy for the second time. But, if an area of ​​the body has received a safe dose for radiation life, another area can still be treated if the distance between the two areas is large enough.

Special dietary requirements when they undergo radiotherapy

Radiation can cause side effects that make it difficult to eat, such as nausea, mouth ulcers, and a throat problem called esophagitis. Since your body uses a lot of energy to heal during radiotherapy, it is important that you eat enough calories and proteins to maintain its weight during treatment.

If you have trouble eating and keeping your weight, talk to your doctor or nurse. It is also possible that it is useful to talk to a dietitian. For more information on how to deal with feeding problems, see the instruction brochure to eat or read more about side effects.

Work during radiotherapy

Some people can work fully during radiotherapy. Others can only work part-time or not at all. How much can work depends on how you feel. Ask your doctor or nurse what you can expect from the treatment you will get.

You can feel good enough to work when your radiation treatment begins for the first time. As time passes, don't be surprised if you get tired, have less energy, or feel weak. After finishing the treatment, you can take only a few weeks to feel better, or it could take months.

You can get to the point during your radiotherapy when you feel too sick to work. Talk to your employer to find out if you can go on a medical license.


Cancer Research UK (2020). What is Radiotherapy?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020). Radiation Emergencies. Radiation and Pregnancy: A Fact Sheet for Clinicians.

National Health Service UK (2020). Health A to Z. Radiotherapy.

National Institutes of Health (2019). National Cancer Institute. Radiation Therapy to Treat Cancer.

Cleveland Clinic (2020). Treatments & Procedures. Radiation Therapy.

Mayo Clinic (2020). Tests & Procedures. Radiation Therapy.

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