Radiotherapy is the treatment of cancer and a few other non-cancerous conditions using radiation. Radiotherapy may be given on its own, or it may be used alongside other treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy or brachytherapy. Radiotherapy treatment for most cancers is given by machines called Linear Accelerators (Linacs) but can also be given on proton gantries, superficial machines and brachytherapy units, this is different depending on the type of treatment you require.
Each patient's treatment is different and planned individually.
Radiotherapy causes changes in cells (normal and cancer/abnormal cells). Cancer cells are more sensitive to radiotherapy than normal cells and so more of them are killed. The normal cells are better able to repair themselves and so the damage to normal cells is mostly temporary. This is the reason why radiotherapy has some side effects.
You do not usually need to stay in hospital when you have radiotherapy; most patients come to the hospital generally as a series of daily outpatient appointments (also called fractions) Monday to Friday (five days a week). Radiotherapy treatment can be anything from one treatment to a course lasting up to seven weeks or more.
For more information, please see our treatment options and equipment page.