For patients suffering from cancer, radiotherapy can be an effective cure, although not all cases can be treated with this form of therapy. This process destroys all the cancer cells in the area, which is treated, while the normal cells can regenerate, cancer cells are entirely destroyed.
There are three main types of radiotherapy; radical radiotherapy is used to destroy the cancer cells completely, this therapy may last up to five weeks and is applied in small doses five times weekly.
Palliative radiotherapy is for those patients that cannot be cured, it is used to help stop the cancer from expanding and to appease symptoms.
Prophylactic radiotherapy is employed to curb cancer cells from reappearing once the surgery has taken place, which will help avoid cancer spreading to other organs, this therapy lasts for a few weeks and is given in small doses.
Radiotherapy works by aiming a beam of radiation on the area, which has to be cured; this external beam radiotherapy is emitted by a special machine, which is placed far from the patient.
Brachytherapy is also another method used to cure tumours; this is placed directly in or on the tumour, and is another form of radiotherapy.
In all cases radiotherapy must be carefully planned and monitored by a doctor in order to aim at the tumour cells and reduce the damage of the patient’s healthy tissue, placed near the cancer cells.
A simulator is used to carefully designate the area to be treated, and the radiographer will mark out certain points in order to delimit the exact position that needs to be treated.