Living with cancer

Radiotherapy

This section will help you to find out more about radiotherapy treatment for cancer.

You will find more detailed information about radiotherapy for specific types of cancer in our Cancer types section.

Radiotherapy (also called radiation therapy) uses x-rays to destroy cancer cells. The most common method of radiotherapy uses a machine (linear accelerator or LINAC) to target x-rays at your cancer from outside your body.

You do not usually have to stay in hospital to have radiotherapy. Treatment may be given in one visit or as a daily course of treatment over several weeks.

At your first appointment, your cancer specialist and radiographers will plan your treatment. Treatment may not start on the same day as your first appointment. The treatment sessions do not hurt and can last from a few seconds to several minutes.

Side effects vary from person to person, and will also depend on which part of the body is being treated. You can talk to your doctor, radiographer or specialist nurse about possible side effects and what can be done to reduce them. An information sheet about your treatment should be available.

If you have been affected by cancer in some way and would like to talk to someone about what you have read or need help finding information - you are welcome to drop into any Maggie’s Centre or to visit Maggie’s Online Centre and talk with a cancer support specialist.