Radiotherapy is the treatment of cancer with X-rays to kill cancer cells. It is often used on its own to neuro-oncological cancers but it may also be given together with or after chemotherapy or surgery.
Radiotherapy is given as an outpatient with the treatment schedule varying in the number of treatments given.
The different radiotherapy schedules can include:
- radical radiotherapy to the brain
- short course radiotherapy to the brain
- long course radiotherapy
- gamma knife radiotherapy
- palliative radiotherapy
- whole brain radiotherapy
- prophylactic cranial radiotherapy
The oncologist always discusses the appropriate schedule including the planning process prior to the delivery of treatment. The neuro-oncology nurse specialist is also available to discuss the treatment and possible side effects.
Radiotherapy itself is painless. However, there are some side-effects associated with it and include fatigue, skin reactions, headaches, hair loss, dizziness and nausea. The side-effects usually gradually disappear after completion of treatment.
If you develop any side-effects, you should seek advice from your oncologist or nurse specialist.