Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells. It can be used to treat cancerous tumours and some benign (not cancer) or very slow-growing tumours. You will only have radiotherapy to the part of your body that needs to be treated.
First, you will meet a doctor who specialises in radiotherapy, called a clinical oncologist. They will talk to you about your treatment and the possible side effects.
You will have radiotherapy at a cancer treatment centre. If you do not live near a main cancer treatment centre, you might need to travel for your treatment. There will be a separate area in the cancer treatment centre where you will be given radiotherapy.
Staff called radiographers give you the treatment. They will explain exactly what is involved and how any side effects can be managed. You will get lots of support. Tell the radiotherapy team if there is anything that is worrying you about the treatment.
Radiotherapy can be used to cure a cancer. This is called radical radiotherapy. You will usually have it over several weeks. Radiotherapy is sometimes given in combination with surgery or chemotherapy.
Sometimes radiotherapy is used to relieve symptoms such as pain. In this situation you usually only need one session or a short course of treatment.
We have more information about managing pain. It is written for people of all ages, not just teenagers and young adults.