Radiotherapy

What is it?

Radiotherapy is a treatment used for many different types of cancer. It can be used to destroy or shrink tumours, as well as relieve pain.

Radiotherapy is not available at Circle Bath per se, but private patients can be seen by their oncologist at Circle Bath and have their radiotherapy treatment administer at the Royal United Hospital, Bath.

What does treatment involve?

Radiotherapy can be administered in 2 ways; external radiotherapy and internal radiotherapy. External radiotherapy involves using X-rays on the outside of the body, and internal radiotherapy involves drinking or injecting a radioactive liquid which is then absorbed by the cancerous cells.

Radiotherapy will be carried out as a course, which can last a number of weeks. It is usual to have treatment every day, with a couple of days break in between in order to allow the normal cells to recover. The radiotherapy will be divided into small doses, so that the body does not become overloaded at once.

It may also be combined with chemotherapy, another cancer treatment.

When will I recover?

Side effects (see below), can last for up to a few months, and it is likely you will feel tired after your course of radiotherapy.

The effect of the treatment may take a little while to show, so it will not be apparent immediately whether the treatment has been successful. You will need follow up appointments at the hospital, and this will be discussed with you in more detail.

What risks should I know about?

Most people who have radiotherapy will experience some short-term side effects. These can vary depending on which part of the body is receiving the Radiation. These can include:

- Tiredness
- Sickness
- Feeling sore
- Loss of Appetite
- Diarrhoea
- Hair Loss
- Difficulty Swallowing
- Stiff joints and muscles
- Sun burn like skin reaction

It is possible to have some of the side effects for a longer period of time, this is also dependent on the area receiving the Radiation, these could include: fertility problems, incontinence, permanent hair loss pelvic fractures and swelling in your arms and legs.

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