Radiotherapy is given to treat cancer and reduce the risk of the cancer coming back in the future and to control cancer symptoms. It can be used alone or in combination with surgery, chemotherapy, targeted treatments and hormone therapy. Radiotherapy is the use of exact, carefully measured doses of radiation to treat disease (mainly cancer). It works by directing X-rays at the tumour (cancer). These cells are more sensitive to radiotherapy than normal cells and the aim is to kill them. Normal cells within or near to the treated area will also be affected, but they are usually able to recover. The number of radiotherapy treatments you have and how often they are given will depend on the size and type of tumour we need to treat. Radiotherapy treatment is painless and will not make you radioactive.
Radiotherapy may be used:
- to cure an illness - for example by destroying a tumour
- to control symptoms - for example to relieve pain
- before surgery - to shrink a tumour to make it easier to remove
- after surgery - to destroy small amounts of tumour that may be left
- Radiotherapy can be given in two ways:
- outside the body (external radiotherapy) - using x-rays, usually given once a day as a course of treatment over a number of days or weeks
- within the body (internal radiotherapy or brachytherapy) - either by drinking a liquid that is absorbed by cancer cells or by putting radioactive material into or close to the tumour
This is a linear accelerator, often called a Linac for short.
Royal Preston currently has 8 lincas at present and these are identified as LA1 – LA8.
A linear accelerator delivers external beam radiotherapy through the production of high energy X-Rays, these are precisely targeted at a tumour or treatment target whilst reducing the dose to surrounding healthy tissues and vital organs.
Radiotherapy works by damaging DNA within cancer cells, cancer cells are unable to repair themselves after this damage and die as a result, while healthy normal cells are able to repair themselves.
Treatment times will vary, depending on the area treated and your specific treatment position.
A lot of the time will be spent putting you into the correct position. You will be asked to remove clothing that covers the area being treated, and then lie on a couch in the same position you were planned in. Using the marks made at your pre-treatment appointment, the radiographers will move the couch and the treatment machine into position.
Each treatment lasts a few minutes and the Linear Accelerator (Linac) makes a buzzing noise when it is switched on.
You will not see/feel anything during treatment.