What is Radiotherapy?

Radiotherapy, also known as radiation therapy and radiation oncology, is an effective and important part of the management in a range of cancers.

One in two patients diagnosed with cancer could benefit from receiving radiotherapy. It can be used to cure the cancer; to relieve symptoms caused by cancer such as pain, or to treat a range of benign non cancerous conditions.

Image0039resizedRadiotherapy uses high energy x-rays to damage the DNA of cancer cells, making them unable to grow or divide. Radiotherapy is delivered using a machine called a Linear Accelerator or Linac, and often requires multiple short visits to the treatment centre over a few days to several weeks.

Generally a small dose of radiation (known as a fraction) is delivered each time, adding up to a total dose. This minimises damage to healthy cells, as the cells can recover between treatments, and maximises the damage caused to cancerous cells.

This video is an example of what occurs during the delivery of a typical radiotherapy treatment at the ALCC. 

Useful information

Download the Cancer Council Australia Understanding Radiotherapy booklet here.