- Cancer Information
- Advanced cancer
- Living with advanced cancer
- Treatment for advanced cancer
- Radiation therapy
Also known as radiotherapy, radiation therapy uses a controlled dose of radiation, such as x-rays, to kill cancer cells or damage them so they cannot grow, multiply or spread. It can be precisely targeted at cancer sites in your body. Treatment is carefully planned to have the greatest effect on the cancer cells and limit damage to healthy body tissues.
Radiation therapy can often shrink tumours or stop them from spreading further. It can also relieve some symptoms, such as bleeding from the tumour or pain from secondary cancer in the bones. Different types of external beam radiation therapy and sometimes internal radiation therapy (brachytherapy) are used depending on the location of the cancer.
Common side effects include fatigue, skin problems and loss of appetite. These may be temporary or longer lasting. Side effects from radiation depend on the area being treated. For example, skin reactions over the area or tummy upset after radiation to the abdomen. For most people, there is some level of fatigue when having radiation treatment and this may be something to consider.
Podcast: Treatment Options for Advanced Cancer
Download a PDF booklet on this topic.
Dr Lucy Gately, Medical Oncologist, Alfred Health and Walter and Eliza Institute for Medical Research, VIC; Dr Katherine Allsopp, Supportive and Palliative Care Specialist, Westmead Hospital, NSW; A/Prof Megan Best, The University of Notre Dame Australia and The University of Sydney, NSW; Dr Keiron Bradley, Palliative Care Consultant, Medical Director Palliative Care Program, Bethesda Health Care, WA; Craig Brewer, Consumer; Emeritus Professor Phyllis Butow, Psychologist, The University of Sydney and Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, NSW; Louise Durham, Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner Outpatients, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Metro South Palliative Care, QLD; Dr Roya Merie, Radiation Oncologist, ICON Cancer Centre, Concord, NSW; Penny Neller, Project Coordinator, National Palliative Care Projects, Australian Centre for Health Law Research, Queensland University of Technology, QLD; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Xanthe Sansome, Program Director, Advance Care Planning Australia, VIC; Sparke Helmore Lawyers; Peter Spolc, Consumer.
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